We Were Young and Headed to the Stars

It’s hard for modern young people to understand what it was like to grow up as a scientifically minded child in the 1960s. It was a special time that has, sadly, passed.

Each week there was a new step toward the stars. And this was not science fiction, this was reality.

Satellites had never existed in all the long history of mankind, but we saw them going up – and functioning – one after another.

As the Gemini program moved forward, we saw men living in space for more and more days at a time; they learned to rendezvous, and they even left their capsule and “walked in space.”


And then we geared-up for a trip to the moon… and succeeded!


Why wouldn’t a young person believe humanity was on its way to the stars? Humanity WAS on its way to the stars!

And on top of that, we had Star Trek. Remember that while Star Trek was clearly fiction, it was easy to see it as just a few steps ahead of us. And Star Trek was all about morality tales. We looked forward not only to an interesting future, but a good one, where we all became better.

And again, this was not at all unreasonable – we were taking clear steps toward it day by day. This was REAL.

And Then…

And then, it all stopped. Skylab and the shuttle were steps backward, useful mostly for saving face. Humanity stopped progressing and pulled back from the stars. If any of us still need a reason to judge government as unworthy of our time and treasure, here it is.

Since space was closed, we’ve endured boring, washed-out decades, focused on anything but the awe-inspiring, the good, and the heroic. Four decades were stripped of the greatest excitement, discovery, and growth that have ever been possible to our species.

Our current decade features no goals save bodily comfort and no aspirations save existence and status. Underlying it all is a palette of manufactured fears that can only be salved by buying the right products or electing the right politicians. We are living though the triumph of manipulation and the disappearance of vigorous individuals.

To show you what we’ve all missed, here are just a few quotes from men who actually walked on the moon:

It was to me like I was just sitting on a rocking chair on a Friday evening, looking back home, sitting on God’s front porch, looking back at the Earth; looking back home. It was really that simple, but it was an overpowering experience.
– Gene Cernan, Apollo 17

On the return trip home, gazing through 240,000 miles of space toward the stars and the planet from which I had come, I suddenly experienced the universe as intelligent, loving, harmonious… My view of our planet was a glimpse of divinity… We went to the moon as technicians, we returned as humanitarians.
– Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14

Since that time I have not complained about the weather one single time. I’m glad there is weather. I have not complained about traffic; I’m glad there are people around. One of the things I did when I got home; I went down to shopping centers, and I’d just go there, get an ice cream cone or something, and just watch the people go by. And think “Boy we’re lucky to be here. Why do people complain about the Earth? We are living in the Garden of Eden.”
– Alan Bean, Apollo 12

As Neil and I first stood on the surface of the moon looking back at Earth—a bright blue marble suspended in the blackness of space—the experience moved us in ways that we could not have anticipated.
– Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11

Please remember that everything done in the 1960s was done with what is now 50-year-old technology. The stars are not beyond our grasp; it’s our lives that have been neutered.

The meaning of modern existence has devolved to nothing more than comfort and status; discovery is a non-factor. All modern man seeks are food, sex, and comfort, and he/she devotes his/her life to nothing more than mundane things.

But once humanity does re-awaken, the doorway to the stars stands open to us.

Paul Rosenberg