Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy tasked our nation to develop the technology necessary to send humans to the moon and return them safely to earth. A mere eight years later, the goal was achieved.
Fifty years later, we're one shuttle mission away from losing our manned spaceflight capability. We won the "space race," but soon we'll be reduced to hitching rides on Russian rockets.
In eight years, we haven't been able to decisively win the wars in the mideast. In ten years, we haven't even been able to replace the buildings destroyed on September 11, 2001.
Some think the space race was a total waste of money, a nationalistic orgy of spending aimed at intimidating our enemies. Perhaps; but at least it didn't involve sending hundreds of thousands of our best people to fight wars in distant lands.
Can we ever regain our technological superiority? Or are we now merely spectators, watching from the sidelines as China and other countries take our place in manned space exploration?
As my friend Jason Togyer of The Tube City Almanac notes, "Well, then- someone needs to strike oil on the moon."