Yesterdays final frontier is tomorrow’s starting point

Alan Bean poses for a portrait in front of a mock up space station.

Alan Bean poses for a portrait in front of a mock up space station.

August Zeidman, Managing Editor

Why should we care about-August Zeidman

As young children, many find themselves enamored with the world of space, rocket ships, and astronauts.  Walking into an elementary school classroom, it is likely that, when asked what they will be when they grow up, many of the students will announce that they will be astronauts, alongside the self-proclaimed presidents and rockstars-to-be. 

Yet, the majority of people, adults included, will probably not be able to name any astronauts other than Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.  These have become household names given that they are the true pioneers of American space expeditions and were the first two men to walk on the moon.  

The names of their crew-mates, including Michael Collins, or the ten other Americans who left their marks on the moon in the years following Apollo 11’s legendary landing, remain forgotten. 

Last month, the world lost another one of these treasured individuals, astronaut and painter Alan Bean.  Bean was the fourth man to walk on the moon as a crew member of Apollo 12 and died in Houston on May 26 at the age of 86.  

After walking on the moon in November 1969, Bean continued working with NASA, as well as a member of one of the crews of SkyLab, until 1979 when he retired as an astronaut.

“Bean’s career is a great example of the success of the American program and he truly transcended what was thought to be possible,” said junior Adam Jackman. 

  In his later years, Bean painted dozens of landscapes inspired by the Apollo Program and his unique experience on the moon.  He was reportedly always a stickler for detail and would contact those he had worked with at NASA to assure their accuracy down to the exact shade of grey.

His works artfully portrayed the desolate beauty of the Moon and reflected the experience that John F. Kennedy had promised to the American people: having a man on the Moon by the end of the decade.  1972 marked the last time an American set foot there and yet the legacy of Apollo lives on, along with most Americans’ pride towards NASA and these achievements.  

Bean’s works helps to continue the adoration of space in spite of the elapsed time since the events.

In the early 2000s, there were plans at NASA to send humans back to the Moon, but because there was not sufficient purpose for the extreme cost of the project, it was abandoned.  Now, with the passing of the Trump Administration’s 2018 budget, this may be a reality again with the Moon being used as a gateway to Mars.

“I think that funding NASA should be a priority because there is so much to learn from the skies above,” said junior Sarabeth Schiff.

They plan on having the first stages of the necessary infrastructure brought to the Moon in 2020 yet, this might end up delayed given that it is a tentative date.  Other nations are also planning manned moon missions, with China having the soonest deadline of 2020. 

Space, often regarded as the “final frontier,” is coming back into the focus of the American science program as the era of the space shuttle has come to a close and operations at the International Space Station are winding down.  

The spurring on from private enterprise such as entrepreneur Elon Musk of SpaceX has also helped push forward plans for a mission to Mars which, until recently, has only been possible in science fiction. 

These past achievements, such as those of the great American Alan Bean, and the hopes for the future paint an optimistic picture about human progress in a time when this can often be forgotten.  The dreams of our forefathers have been exceeded and will continue to be exceeded beyond anybody’s wildest expectations.