The road to hell is paved with good intentions and I was hoping to commemorate the 49th anniversary of the moon landing this month, but as i'm away in the Med, the date passed me by. Not a milestone as such until 2019, but worth remembering those heady days of the moon shot and the space race, when everything was geared towards astronauts and spaceflight.
These days deep space seems a little ordinary now, as we can routinely scan transmissions from the ephemera, view unprocessed images of space and receive tweets from a robotic messenger on Mars.
The wonder of the cosmos seems to have paled into insignificance and the myth about the staged lunar landing still seems to have credence, despite the fact that the descent stage of the LEM is actually visible on the moon surface!
A mission to Mars seems equally unlikely now and as the extent of the known solar system seems to have been routinely mapped, I ask "what now?". What can possibly stir the collective curiosity of tbe public in the same way that the moon shot did? An oddly shaped asteroid recently blasted through the solar system, barely raising a scientific eye brow and causing only a brief mention on the news:
Cassini's vast trove of information about the Saturnian system is routinely meted out on Twitter, with utterly breathtaking images of ice fountains on Enceladus and enormous hexagonal polar vortices on the parent planet, vying for attention and losing out to piano playing cats and vitriolic rhetoric about Donalds Trump's hands.
Its a shame that the excitement and wonder of space travel has been rendered into a comic book trope and a movie meme. I was really annoyed to see the utterly ridiculous rescue scene for Princess Leia in the last Star Wars epic, which flew in the face of all natural physical laws, even in a universe which upholds the presence of a supernormal 'force'. Even more oddly, the franchise then goes on in the latest Han Solo epic to redress George Lucas' famous gaffe about 'parsecs' in a New Hope, bringing the issues of a unit of distance being used as a measure of time, firmly under control.
Perhaps the success of science fiction has satisfied the basic human desire for curiousity and shown what exists on the dark side or in the farthest corners of the universe cinematically; and replaced that need to climb atop a multi billion dollar firework and go look in person.