Sunday, August 2, 2009

What Apollo Was About

I was watching the Apollo 11 celebration in Washington on NASA TV last night, and I saw something significant as I looked at the logo for the 40th anniversary of the landing. Now, remember that the Apollo effort was supposedly all about going to the moon. However, as shuttle astronaut Joe Allen said in the interview that he granted for my book, The Overview Effect, "With all the arguments, pro and con, for going to the moon, no one suggested that we should do it to look at the Earth. But that may in fact be the most important reason."

It seems that whoever designed the logo for the Apollo 11 celebration knew that Allen was right, because the scene is not a view of the moon. It is, rather, a view of the Earth as seen from the moon. The perspective is from the lunar surface, with the numbers 4 and 0 in the foreground, and the Earth rising on the horizon within the 0. Think about all the choices that NASA had in designing that logo, all the people who had to participate in approving it, and in the end, think about the fact that they chose to make the view of the Earth, the Overview Effect, the centerpiece.

Now, imagine all the arguments pro and con, for going to Mars. Could it be that we will eventually realize that the real reason was to see the Earth from the surface of the red planet? And what will the logo look like for the 40th anniversary of that landing?

Frank White

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