I am currently on a free trial of Apple TV+. One of the shows I’ve stumbled upon there is called “For All Mankind“. I got hooked on it immediately and it’s easy to see why. The show deals with alternate history and the exploration of space through NASA’s eyes. The premise is that the space race didn’t end with the United States landing a man on the moon. In the show’s reality, the both the political will and government money from the US government pushes space exploration beyond just a few cursory visits to the moon’s surface. Much of the impetus behind this is to best the Soviets, in pretty much everything space-related.
I’m a sucker for alternate history entertainment in all forms and I often wonder how different the world would be if the US didn’t stop that crazy pace of development they had in the race to the moon. How much further would humans be out in the stars? What cool and useful technology would we have now as a result?
The show gives me a view of a reality that could have been. There would be a permanent base on the moon by the early 1970s. The Mars rovers that we know so well now would have been on the red planet by the mid-1970s. Electric cars would be emerging on the commercial market in the early 1980s.
In their world, spaceflight is common, and the general view of space exploration is that it’s worthy of effort, time, and money. At any given time of the year, there are dozens of people that live and work on the moon, people from all nations. NASA is leveraging what they know about landing, building, and living on the moon to plan a manned mission to Mars.
All of this is exciting stuff for me and appeals to the childhood wonder I had and still have for space exploration. I started watching the show this weekend and I think I went through fifteen one-hour episodes so far.
All of this just makes me hope that I’m still around when NASA goes back to the moon. I understand that is supposed to happen in less than a decade but we don’t live in the reality of the TV show. We live in this reality where space exploration has been done on a shoestring government budget or has been left to private companies. Our technology is now exponentially better, faster, and lighter than anything NASA had in the 1960s but it’s not the technology that holds us back from sending humans back to the moon and beyond. What holds us back is a missing will, desire, and passion to do these things. We have become mired with problems down here that drag us down and keep us firmly on earth. I have always been so envious of the people who got to watch the moon landing so many decades ago. I hope to get my chance to see the same thing in a few years but who knows how many delays we’ll have until then.
For now, this show kicks ass and I’ll binge it until I run out of episodes to watch.