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Godspeed Artemis
Michael O'Casey
Michael O'Casey's View from the Riverbank

An event was scheduled at Cape Kennedy, Florida, 8:30 a.m., Monday, August 29, 2022, that resembles television news reruns of the late 1960s for those of us who remember the thunderous liftoffs of the early Apollo missions which paved the way for the first Moon mission on July 16, 1969. A huge Artemis rocket was set to lift off and propel an Orion space capsule into orbit around the moon during a 42 day mission.  If successful, it will be a vital step in the attempt to get man to Mars and beyond. 

Some vividly remember the heady days following that first manned moon mission of 1969 when we were proud to be Americans and people around the globe celebrated with us. But that achievement was a result of intense competition with the Russians, and there were no long term objectives.  It’s different this time. The launch, which was temporarily scrubbed Monday, will be a baby step in a marathon run to find out what is out there.

I’m almost one of those whacko wingnuts that believe the survival of mankind is dependent on a far distant colony as we seem hell bent to destroy Plant Earth one way or another.  For the last 70 years there have been halfwit dictators somewhere in the world amassing their nuclear toys and itching to try them in pursuit of world domination.  Recollections of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust should clearly demonstrate how fortunate we are that Adolf Hitler came to power prior to the discovery and development of atomic weapons. Otherwise many of us might not be here, and English might not be our primary language.  Unfortunately the leading Hitler wannabes today have access to red buttons that could propel civilization back to the Stone Age or further in less time than it takes to grill a hotdog on the 4th of July. So the possibility of a colonial transplant may actually be a last ditch survival plan for the world and our species. 

My maternal grandmother always believed the Moon landing was faked and professional wrestling was real. According to her, “somebody said” the Apollo 11 Moon Base was actually a secret movie set somewhere in New Mexico.  Maybe Donald Trump found and toted off some of those top secret papers in his secure cardboard boxes that went to Mar a Lago.  If so, perhaps we might actually learn something from that tedious partisan tug-of-war that continually displaces important stories which the news and social media sometimes ignore or consign to the small print section. 

On the other hand, expect partisan slanted reporting of the Artemis project from virtually all news sources. For certain it will be portrayed as the greatest achievement of man in the last 24 hours or less based on our average attention span or an insanely expensive enterprise in which the money could have been better used to pay off all college student loan debt or divided equally among congressional and presidential candidates who know what’s best for us to be used for political misinformation or summer homes. 

And  then there is real potential for a disaster whereby astronauts are lost forever in deep space. If that occurs, the Chinese will have colonies on Mars and preparing to explore planets outside our solar system before our congressional investigators get to the bottom of what happened and assign blame to individuals and a political party. Part of the project funding will have to be diverted for dog and cat petting facilities for distraught individuals. It is part of our time.  In our virtual reality fantasy world, we are conditioned to the idea of wars without casualties. 

Regardless, I can’t wait to see where we will go and what we will learn.  For the first time in my life, I wish I was eight years old again. What is out there?  Is there extra-terrestrial life in the universe?  If so, what will it look like?  Are we the most intelligent species or are there entities and societies somewhere that will make us look like we still live in caves and cook over open fires?  Are all those unidentified objects that our ancestors apparently observed in our blue skies and those some see now which appear to defy all laws of physics and gravity real or just residual effects of consuming too much fermented grape juice over the eons of our existence? 

For better or worse, I’d like to know.  Godspeed Artemis…