Reaching For the Moon

The bitter taste of Space

By Bianca Begovich

The movie Hidden Figures is a wonderful true story about a group of black women who helped make the calculations to launch the first (and subsequent) American shuttles into space.  

While the movie is thoroughly enjoyable (you should all see it), it leaves a bitter taste about both the American nation and the supposed benefits of space exploration.

 On one hand, it highlights the plight of the negro people during the 1960s civil rights movement. On the other, it showcases the united racism of the American people against the Russians (or more definitively, the Communists).

‘Commies First in Space’

My 73-year-old mother remembers the headlines with the first successful Russian space mission.  They read ‘Commies first into space.’  Hidden Figures is a good portrayal of how determined NASA was to beat the ‘bloody commies.’

Despite the internal civil rights atrocities in their own country, Americans were all united in their desire to annihilate the Russians (or Chinese or whoever).

Looking back now one has to ask, what has the space race actually achieved?  

Estimates say there are over six thousand tonnes of space rubbish floating around our atmosphere.  Additionally, each flight uses one million pounds of

Some of more than 600,000 pieces of space junk orbiting Earth (photo — NASA)

propellant to launch rockets to the moon.

Huge ecological costs of space

That’s a huge price to pay for a planet now ravaged by the effects of climate change.

Has space travel benefited humankind or the earth in any way other to inspire admiration of the people willing to launch themselves off the edge of the planet?  Has the search for life on other planets actually helped us with our own slice of paradise which is slowly dying from the effects of fossil fuel use?

It seems not much has changed in the 56 years since the space race.  Humankind is still driven by the egotistical desire to dominate the planet and all other life as well.  

And as for the civil rights ‘wins’ depicted in the film?  Trump’s election to office clearly highlights America’s basic desire to ‘be better than rest’ hasn’t changed much either.  

Continuing to search for dubious life elsewhere seems absurd in the face of fossil fuel induced climate change.

 Surely the estimated $18 billion NASA spends on space exploration could be better used to benefit humankind and the environment of the planet we already live and thrive on?