There is a lot of interest and comment today regarding the exact day, 40 years ago, on which humans first set foot on the Moon. To me, this is a bittersweet memory. The sweet part relates to the fact that our son, whose birth had occurred three weeks before, was having his mother's milk while we were watching the landing on TV. At the time I wondered whether he would grow up to be one of many future space travellers who would naturally go to space, with an ease similar to travel by airplane. In my mind, the image of Neil Armstrong stepping onto the Moon's surface will forever be linked with those memories.
The bitter part of that memory is that mankind's ability even just to repeat that forty-year-old feat has withered on the vine. We are reduced to admiring achievements which occurred four decades ago, and treat them as though they are today's. No one is in a position to place a human on the Moon now, both for technical and financial reasons. It is sad to think that much of the talent and money which could have furthered our progress in space was instead directed toward, and wasted on, conducting useless wars and persuing infinite greed.
I find it a hopeful sign that a return to the Moon, and also an expedition to Mars are seriously being contemplated. Maybe our son's daughters will one day go into space. I wonder whether I'll be around to see it?