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Opening Arguments

Magnificent desolation

Buzz Aldrin has come up with my new favorite phrase: "Magnificent desolation":

My first words of my impression of being on the surface of the Moon that just came to my mind was "Magnificent desolation." The magnificence of human beings, humanity, Planet Earth, maturing the technologies, imagination and courage to expand our capabilities beyond the next ocean, to dream about being on the Moon, and then taking advantage of increases in technology and carrying out that dream - achieving that is magnificent testimony to humanity. 

But it is also desolate - there is no place on earth as desolate as what I was viewing in those first moments on the Lunar Surface. Because I realized what I was looking at, towards the horizon and in every direction, had not changed in hundreds, thousands of years. Beyond me I could see the moon curving away - no atmosphere, black sky. 

Cold. Colder than anyone could experience on Earth when the sun is up- but when the sun is up for 14 days, it gets very, very hot. No sign of life whatsoever.

That is desolate. More desolate than any place on Earth.

Yeah, it's maybe more desolate than any place on Earth, but it's the best place of all to see the Earth in a new light. I've never seen anything as awe-inspiring as those photos of our big blue marble as seen from the moon.

He says elsewhere in the piece that he thinks an American Mars landing is not far off, and I'm afraid I disagree with that. The space program to me is the most frustrating government endeavor of all time. To think that we made that incredible push and actually got to the moon and . . . then . . . just . . . quit. One president can have the vision and drive to get something started, but for anything really big, enthusiasm has to be maintained across several administrations. That seems unlikely today.

And we didn't get there because of some idealistic fervor or sense of adventure or scientific curiosity. We just wanted to beat the damn Rooskies. These days we've become such a bunch of isolationist boobs that I don't think anybody would even care.


Larry Morris
Wed, 07/09/2014 - 10:17am


A trip to mars, and getting back, would be a great goal.  The only problem is there are significant scientific hurdles that must be overcome to do so safely.  They will no doubt be overcome, but they could have already been solved if we had been working on them since we went to the moon.  In all likelihood, we would have already been to mars and would be solving the hurdles for the step beyond.