I’ve always loved this photo (Earthrise), taken as a black and white in 1968 (!) and then pseudo-colored in 2013. I was 12 years old when we landed on the moon, and for most of my younger years I took it for granted that I would get a chance to walk on the moon, either as an Air Force pilot or a civilian. (My pilot dreams were quashed during my short stint in AF ROTC when it became clear that no amount of academic or physical qualifications would convince the AF to overlook my very poor uncorrected eyesight. No contacts allowed for pilots in those days, and laser correction wasn’t invented yet. Door closed.) Those hopes faded further as the US gave up on space as a new frontier in the 80s, 90s and 2000s.

Things are a little better now with a somewhat-revitalized NASA augmented by the likes of SpaceX and Blue Origin. Now our frontiers are broader, with Mars and the gas giants theoretically reachable by humans. Machines have the honor of exploring new worlds at present, as seen in the Mars photo below by Pathfinder. NASA’s Mars Pathfinder mission landed on the Red Planet on July 4, 1997. It’s tiny rover, named Sojourner after abolitionist Sojourner Truth, spent 83 days of a planned seven-day mission exploring the Martian terrain.

My sincere hope is that we can get back to being a nation of inspiration and exploration during my lifetime. That’s when we’re at our best.

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