I was 10 years old on July 20, 1969, the day Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon and solemnly said: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” (Here is a transcript of the Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Journal, with commentary.)
The words were supposed to mark the beginning of a new era of exploration as we extended our presence beyond the confines of our home planet, not unlike what had happened here on Earth a few centuries earlier as we began to travel more freely and fully explore our own planet.
Fast forward to 2011. Much has changed. We don’t have a lunar base and, in fact, haven’t stepped back on the Moon in almost 40 years. Manned space flight is prohibitively expensive and, of course, risky. There are also serious technological challenges. However, President Obama believes we should keep on sending humans to space. Should we?
Commentator Marcelo Gleiser answers that question in his latest post to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos And Culture.