On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first human beings to land and walk on the Moon. Armstrong is no longer with us to mark the anniversary of this incredible achievement. But Buzz has been active in keeping the dream of human space exploration alive.
Forty-five years after making those famous footprints on the lunar surface, Aldrin’s #Apollo45 Facebook and social media celebration features videos of prominent folks answering the question “Where were you when men landed on the Moon?” Most of the comments exude the excitement that this achievement inspired. And some also express sadness at the fact that only twelve humans have ever kicked up the dust on Earth’s satellite and that no one has gone on to build lunar bases and settlements.
In his latest book Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration , Aldrin and co-author Leonard David suggest that a next great human achievement should be the human exploration of the Red Planet.
Aldrin offers his own perspective on the best way to get there. But two facts are crucial to keep in mind when contemplating such missions.
First, it is best for the private sector to lead the way. For example, SpaceX founder Elon Musk, whose company has already launched private cargo rockets to the International Space Station, has said his goal is to die on Mars—but not on landing! And the private Mars One project wants to send settlers to Mars not to explore and then return but, rather, to stay there permanently.
And second, space exploration represents humanity at its best. It’s an amazing achievement of human reason.
So let’s celebrate the 45th anniversary of that one giant leap for mankind and let the spirit of that mission inspire even greater achievements in the future.
*Edward Hudgins, “ Apollo 11 on Human Achievement Day .” July 20, 2005.
*Edward Hudgins, “ The Spiritual Significance of Mars. ” August 12, 2003.
Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.