One Small Step For Man . . .

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If you're like me (and I know many of you are), you grew up reading the science fiction of the 1940's and 1950's, promising a quick and rapid expansion into the solar system, and not too long thereafter, the galaxy.  Your young mind tried, and failed, to fathom the vastness of the empty gulfs between the stars.  But there was one thing you knew:  you wanted to go.  During the incomprehensibly lengthy interval between you and adulthood, man would surely prepare itself to go to Mars and beyond, and you were going to be among the pioneers.

Four years before I was born, man walked on the moon for the first time, the most magnificent single feat our little tribe of East African Plains Apes has ever managed.   Now we don't even do that.  What happened to the dream?  Government mismanagement, yes, but something more than that, too, some failure of imagination and will. 

I hope that by the fiftieth anniversary some people, somewhere, will have regained the momentum that pushed mankind into our first tenative baby step towards the stars.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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