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What we forgot after Apollo 11
Will returning to the moon rekindle America's enthusiasm for space exploration?
 

It has been exactly 40 years since Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, said The Washington Times in an editorial, and "we are still waiting to be that moved again." Few events before or since "have captured the imagination in much the same way as the moon landing."

"So here we are today," said Kevin Horrigan in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "40 years after man stepped away from the planet, busily destroying it and making no real plans for what comes next." We've forgotten the way Apollo 11's moon landing brought together people deeply divided over race and Vietnam. We went to the moon because, as John F. Kennedy said, the task was hard, but since then we have chosen "to do things because they are easy."

The moon is no longer "just a mystery and a muse," said Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post. Now—abandoned, still stamped with just 12 sets of human footprints—it stands as a "nightly rebuke." We met the challenge of a "vigorous young president" to reach a new frontier, "then we retreated. How could we?"

The Apollo 11 astronauts have an idea about how to get back on track, said Traci Watson in USA Today. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin—who accompanied Armstrong on the first moonwalk—and Michael Collins—who circled the moon in Apollo 11's command module—said as they marked their mission's anniversary that NASA should aim for Mars instead of working on sending astronauts back to the moon.

Returning to the moon is enough of a challenge for now, said Clara Moskowitz in Space.com. NASA's current rockets can only take astronauts into low orbit, so we'll need something much more powerful to reach the moon. And the next generation of moon rockets will have to carry much greater payloads, because when we go back we'll want to build a permanent presence up there instead of just planting flags.

 

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