Archives for August 2017
Very happy to officially share our intro video for 'When We Were Apollo' with you. "The spirit of Apollo–that belief that we can do the big things regardless of what stands in our way–is still with us. It's our deepest hope with this film and beyond that we will always endeavor to do the big things–especially when times are hard–because they push us to become the best versions of ourselves.
On behalf of our production team, thank you for supporting this film, and for all the ways you embody the spirit of Apollo in your daily life."
Zack Weil, Writer/Director
Zack suggested I send you this week's letter. I'm very pleased to meet you! I'm extremely excited to be part of the crew for When We Were Apollo.
Sometimes when I'm tangled in the day's to-do list or stressed about an immediate problem, I think about how big space must be if it takes a beam of light billions of years to cross it. The universe completely blows my mind!
I headed up to Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles this week to ask people what they think about space. Picture a long row of cars on a narrow road snaking through the dry desert hills. I crossed the parking lot at the summit and stepped onto the crowded green lawn in front of Griffith's pure white fortress topped with iron domes.
Every kind of person was there, enjoying a scorching summer day and their curiosity for the heavens. Feeling kinda creepy until families realized I only wanted to hear their thoughts about space, I mingled until my bald spot was sunburned. You can watch the video below to see what people had to say.
I missed the moon landing by a decade, but I marvel when I think about how humanity started on this planet with nothing but our body and the dirt; Yet we figured out how to land a human being on the distant moon as it flew across the sky. WHAT?!
Not everyone at Griffith was awestruck. People were candid about more pressing concerns that keep them occupied, from grocery shopping to global poverty. Worries about killing our own planet was a common sentiment. Why spend resources on space exploration when we don't have our own house in order? They have a point.
But there were also plenty of kids, mothers, and friends who think we should always keep exploring the cosmos. It just makes sense. We're here, on our tiny blue marble, and we have the ability to perceive the vastness of space. Not only that, but we can apply the things we learn to improve our life and planet. Why wouldn't we do that?
When We Were Apollo takes us back to the time when putting a man on the moon was the coolest thing around. It's a reminder, as we look after our families and go about the daily business of Earth, that we play a special role in the endless expanse of matter and energy. It's human to be amazed. It's human to forget. All the while nature is here, and we can know it we want. It's distinctly human to decide if we will.
What do YOU think? Please jot us a note in our comments section.
Thank you for reading!
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mark and David Dodson, brothers, talented filmmakers and space passionistas here in Los Angeles. Their new project, The Landing, tells the story of an ill-fated Apollo mission and its mysterious landing in the desert some forty-five years ago. If you can, I highly recommend trying to see it while it’s on the film festival circuit.
We covered a lot of ground during our nearly three-hour conversation–everything from the early days of spaceflight to recent trends in space privatization. I’ve been thinking about the latter topic a lot since then, and wanted to share some thoughts:
Up until the last decade or so, the space program has been entirely public. NASA’s charter called for the creation of a civilian space agency in the interest of our security and general welfare. And yet, this past decade, we’ve seen a dramatic shift towards the privatization of space: from the use of commercial spacecraft and rockets to bolder plans on behalf of private companies to travel back to the moon and eventually on to Mars.
I want to be clear that I am not in any way against the idea of either private citizens or companies participating in space exploration. Cooperation between the private and public sectors is what made past achievements like Apollo possible, and I’m completely blown away by the exponential progress companies like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are making.
That being said, I do think we should spend some more time considering and appreciating the value of a space program that is predominantly public. In his new book, Apollo in the Age of Aquarius, Neil A. Maher poignantly reminds us that because of its direct connection to taxpayer dollars, “NASA was forced to listen and pressured to respond.” Private entities have no comparable pressure points. Untethered from “the halls of government,” there is nothing holding them accountable to our collective wishes and desires.
More important, however, is the value we all gain by the way a public initiative brings us closer together–giving us the opportunity to share in a truly collective experience. As a public entity, when NASA achieves a great milestone like landing on the moon, we take personal pride in it because it is also our success. When a horrible tragedy like the Apollo One fire or Challenger explosion strikes, we feel a direct sense of loss and grief because it is also our failure. And when NASA astronauts reach a new frontier like Mars, they will explore and open up new possibilities for each one of us because they will also be our ambassadors.
This intimate and personal connection we feel to space exploration is forged largely by its very existence as a public effort. No more clearly did we learn this invaluable lesson than during the time of Apollo–a project that saw hundreds of thousands of people coming together to push the limits of what was thought possible on behalf of American society.
When we cede space exploration to private enterprise–regardless of how impressive their abilities or noble their intentions–we inadvertently remove ourselves from the equation, distancing space and all of the wonderful discoveries it has in store from the societal bonds that keep us together.
It's for this main reason I ask: how much public ground in space are we willing to give up?–not to dismiss the efforts of visionaries like Musk, Branson and Bezos out of principle–but because I wonder if we will truly feel as personally connected to and as inspired by their accomplishments as we did when we as a people landed on the moon.
What do you think? Share your thoughts with us below.