Do you think we should return to the moon? It's a simple question that evokes many complexities. As someone who, since childhood, has loved space missions, science fiction movies, and still hopes to have a priestly assignment on the Moon, I say let's go... and could you sneak me on the mission somehow! At the same time, I realize that I am no pragmatist. Any space mission, no matter how large or small, can face immediate opposition amid the struggles our world faces. Global hunger, poverty, and the ongoing impact of a global pandemic would understandably lead many to argue, "Forget the Moon, we have too many things to address in this world before we explore other worlds." This is a valid argument and I wouldn't blame anyone for feeling this way.
Still, both personally and in my priestly ministry, I have come to appreciate the power of symbol. Sometimes, when our chins are down we need something to catch our eye to pick them up. Where the eyes go the chin will follow. Could a return to the Moon to put, quote NASA, the first woman and the next man on the Moon lift our eyes, chins, and hearts as a people? Could this be a moment of cultural wonder that, similar to the Mercury and Apollo missions, evokes a universal sense of awe and wonder?
I am excited to have my "Apollo Moment" of watching the first woman and next man walk on the Moon. At the same time, I also fear it could be met with a collective "meh" by our world that now finds cyberspace to be the new frontier instead of outer space. One only needs to watch the movie Apollo 13 to see a theatrical depiction of the struggles lunar missions faced just two missions removed from the historic Moon landing of Apollo 11. The highpoint of this struggle came when the "live from the LEM" show that was supposed to be aired on television got scrubbed, described as making a mission to the Moon look as exciting as a trip to Pittsburg (no offense to our Pittsburg readers). Looking at the original footage, it does become clear why the broadcast wasn't nominated for any Emmy awards.
In the weeks to come, I'm going to reflect on the Artemus mission in more detail. For now, I will leave you with a couple NASA videos to explain the Artemus Mission and ask you to reflection on a simple, yet complicated question.
Should we return to the Moon?
Leave your comments below and, together, let us get excited for the upcoming Moon missions! In time, may that excitement prepare us for the long term missions of sending humanity to Mars!