I hate to rain on the parade - but I couldn't get excited about the anniversary yesterday of the Apollo 11 launch in 1969, the one that ended up with a moon landing. Rather than being awe-struck at the prospect of boldly going where no man had been before - the vision of Neil Armstrong sticking the stars and stripes into the lunar surface strikes me as the epitome of imperialist arrogance and mankind's futile pomposity.
At this point I'm assuming someone will chip and cite the immeasurable benefits of the space program from non-stick saucepans to cancer research. But I am dubious, with an equivalent spend - of $85 billion - dedicated say solely to medical research, the benefits would not have been any less. The one and only reason for the space program was stated unequivocally by Kennedy in 1961 at the height of the cold war - for the USA to get one over the Soviet Union - everything else was nothing more than an afterthought.
In the 1970's a bizarre offshoot of some branch of Trotskyism argued that if extra-terrestrial life forms visited the Earth then they can only have come via the kind of technology which would have been developed by the highest form of civilisation - socialism. They then lost themselves in a Jesuitical debate as to what attitude Earth socialists should take to an alien invasion - should it merit 'critical support' ? Were there parallels with the role of the Red Army in post-war Eastern Europe?
Daft certainly - but no dafter than sticking a flag into a lump of barren orbiting rock.