Elon Musk and his remarkable SpaceX cohort have today given us what will undoubtedly prove to be one of the most iconic images of the 21st century.
There have been others to date, for sure, but few if any that we could hold up as a clarion call and an inspiration to our youth, wherever on our beautiful blue planet they may live. The unfolding Apollo program and the Clark/ Kubrick epic “2001 A Space Odyssey” were the backdrop of my teenage years, and held out the same promise of a remarkable, challenging and inspiring future. Evoking those memories makes this rather absurd image an intensely poignant yet hopeful one for me. It’s a shame Ziggy is not around to laugh with us, in sheer joy and amazement!
As for the critics who ask, “Shouldn’t the most powerful rocket of the age have carried a more useful, worthy payload?” Well, probably not, given a 50% chance that it would end up in a fireball! This was the Falcon Heavy’s first test launch remember, and its oldest sibling had four such firey outings before getting a good view!
And those sorry few who wonder about the point of this expensive “stunt” need to dream more; to spend more time reflecting on the universe our there beyond the all too narrow horizons that contain our daily lives.
The inspired and inspiring team at SpaceX have a mission: they are striving to enable our journey to becoming a multi-planetary species. I join them in believing that to be an important undertaking and one which, driven by the creative power of diversity, will continue to stimulate the kind of innovation that we have seen from this merry company over its brief history.
My plea is that, while they/we are busy planning this exciting journey of exploration and discovery, we should not forget that we have a collective responsibility to deliver on another, far more pressing, challenge …
… one that must inspire the same spirit of creativity, innovation, and joyful optimism if we are to succeed.
We would not want our children’s children’s children to look back at the pale blue dot and know that it could no longer be their home.