Why Going to the Moon Is Impossible

Here’s why going to the Moon and attaining a stable world peace are both impossible:

The Moon is too far away.
Peace is too far away.

Man was never meant to live in space.
Man was never meant to live in peace.

The technology doesn’t exist for getting to the Moon.
The technology doesn’t exist for getting to a peaceful world.

Too many different moving parts would have to work together, nearly flawlessly.
Too many different people would have to work together, nearly flawlessly.

The money would be better spent here on Earth.
The money would be better spent on practical things.

Unfortunately for my invincible proof, a small number of people did decide to go to the Moon. Step by step, they overcame every technical and political barrier, and every doubt. Along the way, a team spirit, a zeal, developed that they called “Go Fever.” These people made a decision, and they committed themselves to making it happen. They went from never having been out of the atmosphere in 1957 to landing on the Moon in 1969—in a matter of just twelve years. And if you say, “Well, they had $35 billion and some of the finest scientific minds,” my reply is that they didn’t start out with all that. At first they were just a handful of people with a dream. And if you reflect on your past and when you really, really wanted something, you probably found a way to make it happen.

I was actually one of the people who felt that money for the US Space Program was wasted. I thought “Why can’t the money be spent here on Earth to lessen hunger or relieve some other great source of human suffering?” Perhaps you may argue that we had national security interests in controlling space, and there’s some truth to that. But I think that there’s a deeper truth. At that time, about forty years ago, it was beyond our powers to believe it was possible to end hunger. Otherwise a movement of people who asked the question, “Would you rather go to the Moon or end world hunger?” might have channeled the Go Fever into a goal more people would surely have wanted. But they didn’t. Why not? The technology existed. We had the brainpower. Even the long-term security interests were there, because people who have their needs met become friends, not enemies.

Why didn’t we try? I believe that forty years ago, human consciousness had expanded to where going to the Moon was just within the realm of possibility. It was a huge challenge that was barely plausible. World peace was essentially inconceivable. To put it another way, at that time humanity didn’t have the vision-power and guts to go after a stable world peace. You are free to disagree with me, because there certainly were other historical considerations.

But rather than argue the point, I’ll state that creating a world where 99% of today’s suffering and death can be eliminated is now possible. It’s within reach, just as landing on the Moon was at one time within reach but yet to be accomplished, or as climbing Mt. Everest was earlier within reach but not yet attained. World peace, not space, is actually the final frontier. World peace is the only Mt. Everest yet to be climbed.

Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, expressed the challenge this way: “If this task of building a peaceful world is the most important task of our time, it is also the most difficult. It will in fact require far more discipline, more sacrifice, more thought, more cooperation and more heroism than war ever demanded.”

I believe it will require several ingredients, among them: expectation, a plan, the right people, and a “Go Fever” similar to what the people at NASA contracted.

You may look at my upgrades and say that they don’t have enough firepower to get us to the Ai Sakai1. I think that’s probably true. That’s why I only claimed that they were enough to get us up and running, to get us the initial momentum, to get us rolling.

Maybe you will be one of the ones who supply the additional technology, funding or inspiration needed.

When President Kennedy made the commitment in 1961 to land on the Moon, no one knew that it could be done. They didn’t know if a big enough and stable enough rocket could be built in time. They didn’t know if the human body could withstand zero gravity for the eight-day journey. They didn’t know if the Moon’s surface was too soft for a landing. They did know that on re-entry, the leading surface of the spacecraft would reach about 12,000 degrees F., a temperature 2,000 degrees hotter than the surface of the Sun. They just didn’t know how to make a surface that could withstand that amount of heat! There were so many unknowns and so many obstacles—and none of these obstacles stopped them.

They had a glorious vision. But they also had something like the Surgeon’s Attitude2: There was no room for preventable error when lives were at stake. They had a saying: “Thou shall have no god but a proven fact.” Every system had to be guaranteed, or have a back-up, or be understood so well that adjustments could be made at a moment’s notice. Yes, they made some mistakes that cost lives, but in the end they achieved their goal: humanity landing on the Moon safely before the end of the decade.

It was a great adventure, one requiring tremendous mastery. Yet how much greater would be attaining the Ai Sakai?* How much nobler would it be to say, “I was part of the generation that achieved the Ai Sakai of Earth. We changed the trajectory of human history.”

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1 The Ai Sakai, roughly speaking, is the goal of a hundredfold reduction in preventable suffering and death before the end of this century.

2 The Surgeon’s Attitude, roughly speaking, is to always prefer the best methods for operating, not just any adequate method.  (See supergoodness for more details.)

 


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