Happy fortieth Man-on-the-Moon anniversary! Did you celebrate yesterday, maybe take your very own “one small step for man”? Let me tell you, the Europeans are still jealous! Why else would an editorial appear in Le Monde, that pillar of the French media establishment, whose very title declares Forty years after Armstrong, Europe should affirm its space ambition?
As the article’s author reminds us straight off the bat, using the words of John F. Kennedy, “It’s not just one man who will go to the Moon, it’s the entire country. Because each of us must mobilize to send him there.” Still, although they have yet sent no one there yet, Europe has been fairly active in space for quite a while. By now they have the powerful Ariane 5 rocket to their credit, which at the beginning of this month launched into orbit the world’s largest commercial satellite, a communications satellite weighing more than 7 tons. The European Space Agency has also made certain major contributions to the International Space Station, including delivering to it last year the first Automated Transfer Vehicle, an unmanned craft designed for resupply trips back-and-forth. Oh, and Europe’s space effort definitely means jobs, as this writer shrewdly points out: 40,000 directly employed in 2008, with around 250,000 further secondary jobs. (more…)