On July 21, 1969, at 2:56 AM GMT, the first human stepped on the Moon, broadcasting for all to see because nobody’d have believed it otherwise. Of course, many still refuse to believe it, preferring various conspiracy theories that may sound somewhat plausible if you don’t put them to the test, but even the Mythbusters did that and proved that the apparent oddities can be fully explained in the lunar environment. So, as they say: Get over it, we really went to the Moon!
Unfortunately, the problem is that, while we did go to the Moon, we didn’t do it for long, stopping after only three and a half years and not managing to get anywhere else since then either. As such, while it’s now been 43 years since the first human stepped on a celestial body other than the Earth, in December it’ll be 40 years since the last one did as well. Admittedly, there do appear to be plans for manned missions to Mars or various, as yet unspecified, asteroids, but so far they’re only on paper, if even that, and, while I’d like my assessment to be proven wrong, the ongoing trend of slashing funding for science makes that situation unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
Of course, I did recently say that I don’t think that manned missions beyond low Earth orbit are justified at this point and I largely maintain that point of view, but even in that post I did specify that an exception may be made for a permanent research facility located on the Moon, as it could provide some relevant scientific information. However, the bigger problem with the current situation is that which is presented very accurately in the “We Stopped Dreaming” videos narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson: 40 years ago, we as a species, as a civilization, were looking up, dreaming of and planning for the future. Today, after stumbling around for so long, we’re generally just looking down at our feet and idealizing the past.
“When you stumble a lot, you start looking at your feet. We have to make people lift their eyes back to the horizon and see the line of ancestors behind us saying ‘Make my life have meaning.’ And to our inheritors before us saying ‘Create the world we will live in.’ I mean, we’re not just holding jobs and having dinner. We are in the process of building the future.” – Captain John Sheridan (Babylon 5)