Nothing Left to Do
Going to the Moon was supposed to be the first step. Where Apollo went, ordinary people would follow. In 1968, PanAm began to take bookings for its Clipper flights to the Moon, scheduled to depart in the year 2000. One of the first to reserve a seat was Governor Ronald Reagan. Executives at Hilton Hotels meanwhile began musing about the possibility of building an underground resort on the Moon. A confident Tom Paine predicted that “by 1984 a round trip, economy-class rocketplane flight to a comfortably orbiting space station can be brought down to a cost of several thousand dollars,” while a trip to the Moon would run in “the $10,000 range.”1 Herman Kahn took time out from musing about nuclear Armageddon to predict that the lunar surface would become a popular honeymoon destination by 2029. There'd be no reason to pack luggage since everyone would be wearing disposable clothes.2
Nearly eight years after the last lunar mission, Reagan was elected President of the United States. One of his first major acts was to deregulate the American airline industry. This placed huge pressure on the big carriers. An early casualty was PanAm, which never got to launch its Clipper service to the Moon.
Twelve men walked on the Moon. Privately they refer to themselves as the Order of the Ancient Astronauts. Today, the quest to go to the Moon seems as strange as stuffing fraternity brothers into phone booths, swallowing goldfish, or listening to the 1910 Fruitgum Company. While both Presidents Bush have tried to resuscitate enthusiasm for space with bold challenges to go to Mars, the American public's reaction has been decidedly lukewarm.
The lunar mission was a very cold thing, cold as the dark side of the Moon. There's not a lot of emotion in the press conferences Armstrong gave before or after his mission. Good old Ham would have screamed and flared his teeth, while Enos might have masturbated. Armstrong, in