It’s too late for small steps, we need a giant leap.

On July 20th 1969, when Buzz Aldrin left his footprint on the surface of the Moon, he was fulfilling a goal set just eight years beforehand by John F. Kennedy.

The President, standing before Congress on May 25th 1961, had said:

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

That was some goal. It was ambitious, outrageous even. It didn’t depend on anyone else’s goals and it didn’t need ratifying by 183 nations.

It took just 2987 days to pull off the single most outstanding technical achievement of humankind. It required billions of taxpayers’ dollars. It demanded that thousands of the smartest brains in engineering and science from competing US corporations all work together to make it happen.

(The Saturn 5 rocket that took the astronauts half a million miles to the Moon and back was built in three separate stages by Boeing, North American Aviation and Douglas.)

But above all, it took just a single act of political will.

There was an enemy way back then, of course, imagined or otherwise. Communism was the bogey-man, a threat to the American way of life, to the whole world even.

Well, Mr President, there’s an even bigger threat facing us all now, so how about another speech to Congress later this year? It might go something like this:

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the next decade is out, of returning the Earth safely to man.”

You’ll need billions of dollars and the best brains in engineering and science, all working together. Last time they tried this, forty years ago, they put a man on the bloody Moon. Can you believe that?

With respect, Sir, it’s time to strap a rocket to your ass.



Words by Jon Matthews
Image courtesy of NASA

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