Posted by: COSI | July 20, 2009

Can We Repeat What We Accomplished On July 20, 1969?

I’m having a hard time accepting that it was 40 years ago today that Armstrong and Aldrin stepped onto the moon while Collins monitored from lunar orbit. What I did last week can be fuzzy in my mind, but I can remember many details of that evening sitting in front of the TV with my best high school friend and our girl friends amazed that we could watch mankind’s first steps onto the moon. That momentous evening and the whole national effort to achieve it changed me forever in my personal attitudes, interests, and my sensitivities to the fragility of our world.

Can we capture that sense of national purpose again? Is there an area of focus that can inspire us as a country and our youth as my generation was? Some people have suggested, and I think with merit, that our ability to make it to the moon was one of those singular events for mankind that is rare in history. Asking for a repeat in one’s lifetime is unreasonable. I think that might be true in some ways and I feel privileged to have witnessed it.

The space effort not only changed the attitudes and perceptions of many, but fundamentally changed our society with all the spinoffs in electronics and technology that are still shaping our society.

The current environmental challenges and need to radically change our approach to energy usage and environmental stewardship seems to possibly be even more compelling as a societal challenge. Can a concerted effort on a national and international scale to address the issues achieve a high level of purpose that is inspiring at the same time?

What roles should science centers play in this effort, as museums did in connecting the public to our space effort and that incredible event on July 20, 1969?

When I’m not focused on budgets, funding, our guest experience, these are the questions that I and my science center CEO friends ask ourselves.

What thoughts do you have on this day?



  1. An “Apollo-style” project aimed at achieving US energy independence would be another giant leap for mankind. The environmental, political – even military – benefits of energy independence would be profound.

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