In my last post, I commented on Mr. Buzz Aldrin, one of the first (and only) guys to walk on the moon. In 1962, in a speech given at Rice University in Texas, President John F. Kennedy challenged our nation to put a man on the moon:
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.
If I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun–almost as hot as it is here today–and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out–then we must be bold.
However, I think we’re going to do it, and I think that we must pay what needs to be paid. I don’t think we ought to waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job. And this will be done in the decade of the sixties. It may be done while some of you are still here at school at this college and university. It will be done during the term of office of some of the people who sit here on this platform. But it will be done. And it will be done before the end of this decade.
JFK’s “Moon Speech” was unprecidented. It was outrageous. Its childlike audacity captured the imagination and wonder of millions Americans. And in 1969, we made it true.
Sadly, today, NASA is inflicted with a serious case of Adultitis. They have abandoned the entrepreneurial spirit of space travel. That spirit is now with the people who were kids when Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon, the people who are investing their own money developing private spacecrafts. According to Charles Lurio, a space consultant, “The current American space program is a passive activity that has no connection with those watching it or their children.”
NASA’s Sean O’Keefe, sees it just a little bit differently: “If I had authorized somebody to jump into a plastic airplane fueled by laughing gas in just a flight suit, there would have been a Congressional investigation the next day — whether it was successful or not.” (Reveries Magazine)
As kids, we all start out with big dreams and great passions. Eventually, Adultitis can get its stranglehold on us and we lose that magical spirit. In the sixties, NASA was a kid. Now it’s a crotchety old grown-up mired in politics and boring “adultlike” thinking. Cheers to the ones who have carried on NASA’s once great childlike spirit by pushing forward in the quest to develop personal spacecrafts. Maybe these entrepreneurs have more money than sense. Maybe they’re driven by ego. Maybe they’re crazy.
But at least they don’t have Adultitis.