Those of us 55 and younger can only imagine what it was like to see the U.S. send men to the moon in 1969, utilizing computers less powerful than the phone you’re using to read this. We have been told that the country hadn’t been prouder since the end of World War II. Additionally, if the sky was no longer the limit, surely the possibilities in the future could only be positive…
It didn’t quite work that way. Just ten days ago, a poll found that 58% of Americans believe the country’s best days are behind it, a record. Some of us are surprised the number isn’t higher. A significant enough portion of this country wants a second Civil War. Sometimes it seems as though the country needs a true enemy to rally ourselves in unity. In an “ideal world” climate change would be that enemy.
We don’t live in an ideal world right now so we best take what we can get.
Most Americans do not know that if things currently go as planned, NASA wants a lunar “base,” akin to the ISS, by the end of the decade. The lunar base would be the jump-off position for any manned mission to Mars. The first significant mission toward that goal is the Artemis unmanned rocket.
But the U.S. isn’t the only nation making significant strides toward a lunar presence, China – too is emerging as a true power in space and also has plans for manned missions. There is both a military and scientific reason to rise to this challenge in a new space race, but perhaps the most desired outcome would be rekindling some kind of national pride and unity.
The United States isn’t going back to the moon alone. NASA leads Artemis, but the program has brought in a number of international partners, including the space agencies of Japan, Canada and Europe. Two other space powers, China and Russia, aren’t part of the consortium, but they have crewed moon plans of their own.
China and Russia announced in March 2021 that they’re teaming up on an ambitious project called the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), which, like Artemis, aims to set up a base near the moon’s south pole.
Indeed, the two projects appear to be targeting the same general patches of lunar real estate(opens in new tab) — highland regions that offer easy access to lots of sunlight as well as the water ice that’s thought to be abundant on the shadowed floors of polar craters.
It is very hard to tell if the Chinese will still partner with the Russians at this point. Yes, Russia has decades of space exploration and rocketry experience. But, Americans have surely noticed that China has done a lot in space recently. China wouldn’t seem to need Russia, and it’s hard to see how Russia could afford a taco right now after being sanctioned off the planet by every respectable nation.
One would hope that there’s enough room around the Moon’s South Pole highlands that there are no actual tensions over who is where. Obviously, one also hopes that no nation has a catastrophic failure with lives lost. But it sure would be nice to see the U.S. use a little bit of elbow grease again and power our way to greatness.
At times one wonders if there’s anything that could unify Americans. Absent an incoming asteroid or a Pearl Harbor-type of attack, perhaps only another space race, a successful one, can unify the country a little and allow everyone to feel a bit proud to call themselves just “Americans” and leaving out any “Left” or “Right” descriptions.
@JasonMiciak believes a day without learning is a day not lived. He is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is a Canadian-born dual citizen who spent his teen and college years in the Pacific Northwest and has since lived in seven states. He now enjoys life as a single dad of a young girl, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast. He loves crafting his flower pots, cooking, and currently studies philosophy of science, religion, and non-math principles behind quantum mechanics and cosmology. Please feel free to contact for speaking engagements or any concerns.