Sunday, May 28, 2006

Moondust by Andrew Smith - book review

Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth
(Amazon Link)

The premise is to track down and interview all the surviving astronauts who made that giant leap for all mankind and set foot on the moon. It's now down to just 9 men and there will soon come a day when no one is left alive who's actually made this greatest of journeys.

That the experience of traveling to the moon changed the astronauts is unsurprising, but what I found intriguing was how they coped on returning to Earth. All of them seem somehow distant and unfulfilled with their post moon landing lives. Not really surprising I suppose, after all, once you've done something so incredible and unique, it must be difficult not to feel that your life is now a little bit of an anti-climax.

The other sad thing about the book is the regret voiced by many of the astronauts about the stalling of space exploration. The shuttle was merely a space freighter and has never really accomplished all that much. The lack of grand ideas and the acceptance that manned space flight is something that belongs in the past is a terribly shortsighted view.

I wasn't fortunate enough to experience the Apollo missions, but the idea that we should be venturing into space, should be going further out into the unknown seems vital to our development. Without it, we become mere observers, wondering what is out there but not having the bravery to take the step.

Space is important, it's out there waiting for us to explore. Moondust merely made me wish we had the vision to actually return.

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