Fly me to the moon

40 years ago today Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot upon the moon. I was alive at the time, but too young to have any memories of the actual event. I do remember that when I was growing up in the ’70’s, watching TV shows like UFO and Space:1999, reading comics like 2000AD and lots of pulpy sci-fi novels (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein is one that especially sticks in my mind), and of course seeing Star Wars at the cinema, I just took it for granted that by the time I was an adult there would be widely-available space travel, permanent bases on the moon and regular trips to Mars and beyond.

Whole books have been written about my generation’s disappointment when these visions of the 21st Century failed to materialise. What we got was the internet, with virtual worlds to explore instead of alien planets. It is possible to visit a the SL version of Tranquility Base:


and numerous other lunar-themed sims, like this somewhat gloomy moonbase:


or this rather cooler one:


but I can’t help feeling a bit cheated.

The disillusionment isn’t just a generational thing though. It reflects my internal dissatisfaction with the course that my life has taken, as I age and am forced to acknowledge that there are some opportunities that will never come my way. It’s not that I’m unhappy with the decisions that I have taken over the years, just that every path that one chooses means leaving many more untrodden.

And anyway, I’m still hopeful that NASA will get their act together and make space travel available to the masses before I die. I just want to see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars

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