Friday, July 17, 2009

Rant #46: One Small Step For Man, One Giant Mistake For NASA

The latest evidence that the NASA mission has fallen on its behind is that the agency admitted that several years ago, it erased its original video of the first moon walk because it had a dearth of video and needed to free up some of it for future tapings.

Of course, admitting this information as the 40th anniversary of the 1969 moon walk by Neil Armstrong and then by Buzz Aldrin is bad enough. But for the agency to admit to this major gaffe 20 years after the fact demonstrates, once again, that the agency doesn't have a clue as to what it is doing, or supposed to do.

Happily, other sources have come up with video, and with modern technology, the moonwalk footage looks better than it ever did. I am sure that NASA is kissing the ground that this footage could be retrieved.

But that, clearly, is not the point.

NASA has been botching the space program since the last moon walk in the 1970s. We are today where we should have been 35 years ago. Due the lack of further manned excursions to the moon and elsewhere, the public's interest has waned considerably, and may never be restored.

Sure, it was the time--1969, the year of Woodstock, where we believed that anything was possible--but it was also the mindset. We truly believed that we could do anything if we put our minds to it. If we could walk on the moon, would Mars be far behind?

Obviously, the answer is yes.

I remember as a 12 year old, watching Neil Armstrong in all of his glory on the moon. I was so interested, that I simply would not turn away from the TV, even though the images on our black and white Dumont living room TV weren't really very clear at all. But what I could see fascinated me, and fascinated the world.

We simply don't have that feeling today. Maybe we are more grounded. Maybe we know that everything is not possible, even if we want it to be.

I just don't know. But NASA erasing the videotapes of its greatest triumph simply does not surprise me in the least.

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