It has been 50 years since Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon, making that giant leap for mankind. In celebration of this historic landmark, The Conversation have produced a podcast called ‘To the moon and beyond’, hosted by Miriam Frankel and Martin Archer. The podcast first explores the legacy of the initial moon landing, and the six further crew missions that took place until Apollo 17 bid their goodbyes to the moon in 1972.
It’s amazing to hear from those who were involved in some of the Apollo missions, as they provide an insight into what it would have been like to be the first man on the moon, and further insight into why we would eventually stop sending people to the moon in 1972. Personally, I hadn’t realised that people had not been on the moon for so long, especially with all the technological developments that have been made since the last moon landing. It is interesting to learn about the motivations behind the space programs, and how they impacted science, culture, and why they have generated so many conspiracy theories.
Conspiracy theories occupy a large space in conversation regarding the moon landings, and I like how the podcast acknowledges conspiracies as a topic, despite the subject matter often clashing with scientific theory and knowledge. The first moon landings were watched by an estimated half a billion people all around the world in 1969, and it’s important to know about how political influences, including the Cold War and apartheid in South Africa impacted perception around one of humanities greatest achievements. Depending on where you found yourself in the world in 1969, the moon landings were either felt as the beginning of a new age of possibilities beyond the confines of our atmosphere or, for many, as a hoax that was intrinsically linked to a global power-struggle between nations. ‘To the moon and beyond’ podcast does a great job in highlighting and reflecting upon the response to the moon landings and how this impact was affected by differing global circumstance.
Aside from conspiracy theories, I think the podcast’s most interesting segments come in the episodes that anticipate the next 50 years of space exploration, starting with where we stand today in 2019, as the space race begins to hot up again. A growing number of countries and private companies have started exploring the moon with robotic spacecraft and landers. We all know about Elon Musk and Space X, but who else is involved in the rebirth of the space race? And what are their plans? It definitely seems to be time to start taking notice of these new space programmes, with many suggesting that expeditions to the moon could be back on the cards in the next 5-10 years.
The new space race provokes more questions, the most notable being; what’s the point of going back to the moon? The final episodes of ‘To the moon and beyond’ answers these questions by talking to more academic experts across the world, ranging from space scientists and psychologists to historians, lawyers and futurists. There is reason behind the renewed drive to put humans back on the surface of the moon, whether it be to use the moon for its resources, as a human settlement or as a gateway to further space exploration.
I think you only need to look at the technological and scientific advancement that has taken place in the 50 years since the first moon landing to begin to imagine what may take place in the next 50 years. Who knows, by 2069 you could even be living on the moon, or maybe even Mars.
If you ever think about any of the theories or questions that are mentioned in this article, make sure you check out the ‘To the moon and beyond’ via the link below.