Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. It was on this day in 1969 that Neal Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldren became the first men to walk on the moon.
After that first lunar landing, NASA returned to the lunar surface five more times. After the Apollo 17 mission, in December 1972, we have not been back to the moon, nor has there been a manned space flight beyond a low Earth orbit.
After all these years, I can't help but wonder what the point of it all was. Did we just go to the moon simply to say that we could? At this point, NASA's plan to return is tentatively scheduled for 2019 with the Orion 15 mission. Apparently this mission is to be the first in a series that will establish a lunar outpost.
But again, what's the point? So many questions are raised when it comes to setting up a manned lunar outpost. Say folks decide to pack up and go live on the moon in this new colony. What happens if they run out of oxygen? It's not like there's an atmosphere on the moon, they can't just open a window for a breath of fresh air. What happens if they run out of fresh water? They can't just put on their space suits and go out to drill a well. What happens if they're attacked by aliens? It's not like they would actually have blaster guns or lightsabers with which to defend themselves.
On the other hand, how cool would it be, a hundred years from now on the thriving lunar colony, a kid is able to say that their great-grandfather was one of the first permanent settlers on the moon. But how sad would it be for that same kid to have never known what it's like to fly a kite in the park or take a dog for a walk. All those neat little things that we Earthlings take for granted will be lost on all those people who will end up growing up on the moon and possibly Mars. What a crazy time the 31st century will be.