(Originally published in 2001 as part of a holiday card)
With the First Moon Landing accomplished in 1969 and with 30 years left in the century, it seemed quite possible that a Manned Mission to Mars would have occurred by the Millennium. But it is now 2001 and at present NASA s project focus is a tiny underfunded, international space station at the edge of earth's atmosphere. What is it, around 3 men stay up there for months at a time doing various experiments? The space program, while generating some public interest, is certainly not as awe exciting or inspirational as the first flight to the moon. Indeed, anything since has been... anticlimactic. The general public knows more about the next Star Wars movie or the deck plans of Captain Kirk's Enterprise than NASA's current efforts.
And so the "moon landing never happened" crowd gains more voice to their argument. CapricornOneism, by which this philosophy can be identified, is a reference to the 1978 movie by a similar name which is about a government sponsored "hoax" flight to Mars. The moon landings were faked because it was beyond the ability of the United States to make it happen for real. It is estimated that some 6 to 7% of all Americans are of this persuasion. FOX Television Network dedicated an hour long segment to this viewpoint and presented compelling "evidence."
But the Moon Landings were the result of times borne of another era, of another imagination. President Kennedy, after the stunning success of Soviet Firsts in launching a satellite then a man into space; edicted landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade. With desire forged from the flames of competition against the belligerent Soviet Union, the race was on!
Thus with "an open purse" resulting in 30 billion dollars invested through the early Mercury, Gemini, and finally Apollo programs, the United States Flag was planted with human hands on the Moon.
Because the astronauts could not extend the flag pole properly, and in fact, twisted another part, the flag appeared to be rippling in the wind. Subsequent crews liked the look and the horizontal flagpole was left only partially extended to achieve the effect.
At the time of the Moon Landing, Vietnam, the "institutionalized war," was in full swing. The Civil Rights Movement washed across television screens with pictures of Freedom Marchers and flaming cities getting mixed in with the images of war protesters clashing with Police and National Guard. Additionally, it was all backgrounded by possible huge nuclear/conventional unpleasantries with the Soviet Union and maybe China.