The scientists and storytellers, who paved the way for the 1969 lunar landing, always saw that feat as a stepping-stone to the wider cosmos. Yet for their political masters, the decade’s dash to the moon was the end-point of this Cold War race. It has taken another 50 years to make Lunar and Martian colonies a serious possibility with NASA's Artemis mission and Elon Musk’s planned crewed mission to Mars, both in 2024. What does this mean for our identity as a species? Are we all citizens of the world now, or of the universe?
One of the things that’s always fascinated me about humans in space is their profound seclusion. Think about cosmonauts cooped up in those tiny modules of the Space Age. Or those Apollo Lunar Commanders who sailed around the Far Side of the Moon utterly alone, out of Comms. reach. Even with his strumming guitar, who could be lonelier than Bowie’s Major Tom communing with a crackly Ground Control? ‘I'm feeling very still.’ So as we Earthlings weather a lockdown we never trained for, what can we learn from astronauts who’ve been doing this for years?