I really couldn’t let today pass without comment. Sorry, nothing to do with allotments or vegetable growing but it was one of the most important things that we, the human race, have done.
I’m talking about Apollo 11 and the moon landing, of course. 40 years ago today.
There I was, just 14 years old and staying with my Great Aunt and Uncle who allowed me to stay up into the wee small hours to watch as mankind stepped out onto the moon.
It’s strange, we all know the whole project was political. Rescuing Kennedy from the political mud of the Bay of Pigs fiasco and improving American prestige as they raced the Soviet Union in space. Yet it didn’t feel like an American project. It was a project for everyone.
My favourite film was and still is 2001 A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick. It was released in 1968 before we’d actually landed on the moon. See – ‘before we landed’ – it still feels like an accomplishment of the human race, not an American prestige project.
By now we should have had PanAm commercial visits to huge space stations shaped like wheels and regular visits to the moon bases. Man should have reached Mars in the mid 1980s and by now we should have had manned ships out beyond Jupiter.
The film did get one thing right, computers do hate us. Although they rarely actually try to kill us (if that doesn’t make sense, watch the film!)
My aim at the tender age of 14 was to be an astronaut. Not just a spaceman piloting ships into the great black void but I wanted to be a farmer in space. I read up on hydroponics and NASA experiments from Skylab with a view to growing food in space.
Remember that plants absorb carbon dioxide and give out oxygen so they’d be incredibly useful on long duration missions and bases on other planets. In fact, because of the huge cost of sending anything into space, recycling our waste products into food will be vital.
So perhaps in the future there will be space gardeners and, in a way, they’ll be organic gardeners using recycled materials. In the meantime, thanks to all the hundreds of thousands of people at NASA, for making one dream come true.
Perhaps America will again have the will and drive to take the human race further out into the black than low earth orbit. I hope so.