Endless space exploration

The Apollo 9 command service cabin and the lunar module carried out the first docking exercise in space. This photo was taken in March 1969, the fourth day of the Apollo 9 Earth mission.

On July 20, 1969, the landing eagle of the “Apollo 11” landed on the surface of the moon. For the first time in human history, it has been on other planets, and it has been a full 50 years.

What happened in space during these 50 years?

In 1976, the Vikings represented humans for the first time in contact with the soil of Mars. In 1973, the Pioneer 10 crossed the asteroid belt for the first time and visited Jupiter. In 2015, the New Horizons flew over Pluto for the first time. In January 2019, it flew over an asteroid called “The End of the Earth”, which is more than 6.4 billion from the Earth. This journey announces that the field of human exploration is approaching the edge of the solar system. In 2012, Voyager 1 became the first spacecraft to enter the interstellar space through the solar circle.

“The basic truth about human nature is that human beings are exploring, and this is the ultimate in adventure.”

However, from another perspective, the range of human activities is still limited. Only 12 people have visited the moon since 1969, and only three astronauts stayed in the space station for 2019. The most representative space photo of the past 50 years, “Earth”, is not the moon, but the earth. Landing on the moon is just to let people change their perspective to see the earth. The development of space technology in the past 50 years seems to make us even more inseparable from the earth.

Is it really the truth? The cover of this issue is designed to ask: “Why are we going to space?” National Geographic author Sam Howe and the photographer Dan Winters noticed a new trend: people are doing well The preparation for space travel, but not the same as the past 50 years, the technology that advances into space is no longer a patent of the superpower, but gradually shifts to the private sector. It is also in the private sector that there is a stronger desire for enterprising. People are eager to leave the earth and fly to Mars to explore the farther universe. The first space age opened by the moon is coming to an end, and we are now entering the second space age, a never-ending exploration story, as Apollo 15 commander David Scott said: “The basic truth about human nature is that human beings are exploring, and this is the ultimate in adventure.”