I was very sad to read that Walter ‘Wally’ Schirra has passed away. Wally was the only astronaut to fly on the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space missions and whilst he never walked on the moon his Apollo 7 mission was a vital step towards that incredible achievement.
Of the 12 men that walked on the moon only 9 are still living and the death of Wally Schirra brings home that at some point in the near future there will be no living man that has travelled to another planet and walked on it’s surface.
What saddens me about this situation is that there are no actual plans to do so again, despite what Bush says.
The human race reached it’s technological peak at the beginning of the 1970s.
In 1969, we could put Astronauts on the moon and by 1976 ordinary people could travel around the world at supersonic speeds on Concorde.
The Apollo moon missions were curtailed in 1973 partly due to the cost, Vietnam was in full flow and costing the US billions, and partly due to lack of public interest. Apollo 13 didn’t even get live TV coverage until it went wrong. How could anybody ever think that travelling to the moon was less interesting than the Lucille Ball show?
Concorde was also axed because of cost by British Airways at least that was their excuse. As Concorde had been paid for by the British taxpayer I was appalled they were allowed to do so. Then, in another travesty, BA refused to sell Concorde to Virgin Atlantic; imagine how marvellous the world’s greatest airliner run by the world’s greatest airline would have been.
If the US and British governments can afford to spend billions and billions of pounds on the new Vietnam or “the Iraq conflict” then they should be able to spend money advancing technology and discovery for the human race. I believe that it is man’s duty to push our known boundaries and to explore our universe.
What if the Spanish had decided that they couldn’t afford the Santa Maria for Columbus?
What if Wilbur and Orville decided that the Wright Flyer was a bit pricey?