Blog & Opinion
15 May 2017 • by Herre Faber
As an eight-year-old kid, I became addicted to what I called my ‘who-what-why’ books that explained all kinds of scientific and technical things to children.
I hadn’t been aware of the moon landing; I was just over a year old when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the heroes of the day. But these books still throbbed with the optimism and ambition of those days. The book about the moon said that it would have a permanently manned moon base within ten years. Fifteen years later, when the construction of the base hadn’t even been started, I began wondering if this had been just a tall tale.
It seemed as if the real reason for the moon landing had been a simple display of power in a pathetic little competition between two countries to show who had the biggest rockets. But you still have to hand it to the Americans: they had big ambitions in the 1960s.
But where is all that ambition today? I always have to chuckle a bit sadly when I hear politicians and executives babbling on about ambition. What would it be like if we really had the kind of ambition they had back in the 60s?
One of those goals we could have met was getting our power supply from clean safe nuclear fusion – and extracting Helium-3 for this purpose from a base on the moon. It could mean a global network to provide everyone on the planet with fresh water. Exciting projects like the colonisation of Mars and mining operations in the planetoid belt between Mars and Jupiter would already be under way.
Instead, it seems as if humanity has retreated into its shell like a flower that opened its petals on a sunny winter day only to realise that spring was still far away.
Even so, I remain optimistic. Elon Musk, the boss of Tesla and SpaceX, is working on projects that will make history. If NASA won’t do it, he wants to go ahead and colonise Mars as soon as possible – and he’s not just talking about it either. If there are enough eight-year-old kids looking to a future when they can realise their ambitions, who knows what wonderful things could happen?
Herre Faber is a mobility technologist and researcher. He came to THUAS in 1998 as a software programming lecturer in Human Kinetic Technology and is now working on his PhD in Biomechanics on the subject of energy expenditure during human walking.