Space, the Final Frontier? Or another Babel?

Growing up during the Apollo era of the “space race” I was caught up in the adventure of men leaving this planet and heading for the moon. Even the black and white limits of TV and newspapers didn’t diminish the wonder of it all in my pre-teen eyes.

Like many boys of my era, “astronaut” was added to the desirable things to do when I grew up. But media disinterest when moon landings became almost “common place” not only led to the cancelling of later planned moon missions, it also diminished the appeal of space exploration in my own eyes. Skylab missions (even if I’d heard of them at the time) didn’t have the same excitement as visits to the moon.

But the interest didn’t disappear altogether. I remember my thoughts after the Challenger shuttle disaster: thinking I’d be more than willing to join a shuttle crew to go immediately into space despite what had just happened.

But while the fascination still remains today, I have to ask myself why. What IS the appeal?

It’s definitely not related to the hardware. I’d barely know one end of a rocket from another if one end wasn’t slightly pointy and the other didn’t spew fire. And it’s certainly nothing to do with any adrenaline rush associated with the danger – or the idea of speed and “g” forces stressing my body.

But is there anyone who could NOT be attracted by the opportunity to see the beauty of the earth from “out there” – or by the thought of stepping onto another world, whether moon or planet and being the ultimate tourist? Getting a new perspective of the wonders of creation…

And then I wonder – what does space exploration mean in the IMPORTANT scheme of things? Is there a legitimate goal to be achieved apart from possibly answering a few scientific questions while raising countless more? Is the financial cost worth it or could it be better spent here on earth? Does the exploration beyond earth contribute to a need in mankind?

Or is it an overstepping of boundaries, taking mankind into areas we do not belong? Is it exceeding God’s biblical command to “…be fruitful and multiply; fill the EARTH and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the EARTH…”

Would ambitions in space be exceeding that God given mandate? Or isn’t that even an issue to be considered?

And could entry into space even be the ultimate Tower of Babel reaching into the heavens to make a name for ourselves?

Whatever the answer, the thing I personally take from discoveries made through space exploration, is an even greater appreciation of an incredible creation and more importantly appreciation of the Creator who made it all.


Art and Moon Missions

Neil Armstrong, the first man to step onto the moon has died and because of that the media have done a little nostalgic look back to the event that made him so famous.

The space race was going on during my childhood. When I was most impressionable, one of man’s most impressive ventures was being enacted. The thrill of manned space “exploration” was still untarnished by familiarity. It was heading towards something exciting that had never been done before – then, not long after Armstrong’s foot hit the surface of the moon, the decline began. People started losing interest.

Only two missions later the space race had lost a lot of its public appeal– until an on-board explosion turned into a potential tragedy and brought attention back to men somewhere between the earth and the moon.
However this time the focus was changed. No longer was the challenge to get them to the alien landscape of the moon – it was to get them back to their own planet safely so they could set their footprints upon earth’s surface again.
Until the explosion, the media had shown little interest in Apollo 13.

I remember following those early missions. I remember the excitement of that first moon landing, and the expert observers predicting man would set foot on mars within the next decade. How quickly the decline set in and exposed the over optimism of those predictions. Not only was the mars venture soon ruled out – interest in the moon was lost. The achievement of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins in Apollo 11 became a peak in mankind’s history instead of a genuinely world changing springboard to greater achievements. It remained a reached destination instead of becoming the first step of a greater journey.

Part of the experience of those moon missions was recorded by Alan Bean, “the only artist to have walked on the moon” ( ). I now have quite a substantial library of art books, but one of the very first was Bean’s Painting Apollo, illustrating many of his paintings related to the Apollo missions.

When I bought it my interest was more in their depiction of the Apollo missions than in “art”. However I found some of his painting technique fascinating – how he added significance to the texture to the paintings by using the sole imprint of the boots he wore on the moon’s surface, as well as imprints of tools used on the moon. Some works contain traces of moon dust mixed with the paint as well as fragments of artefacts associated with Bean’s Apollo 12 mission.

Here is a brief video outlining some of his surface preparation prior to applying paint: