Question: What’s your New Frontier?

Today is the 40th anniversary of Armstrong and Aldrin walking on the moon and I’m up there too today, somehow. Kennedy called space the New Frontier, and that was certainly what it felt like 40 years ago. I’m leaving out the Cold War context here to focus on social change for the moment. The Apollo missions showed us that the moon was a cold, dusty place and how beautiful and inviting Earth looked from outer space. I used to watch Star Trek, and the inside of Starship Enterprise looked cozier and cozier as the crew continued “To boldly go where no man has gone before” – a grammar structure, by the way, that drove grammarians nuts. This was the era of progressivism. No matter what your political leanings were, you believed that the world would become a better place if only people would buy into your mission. And you know, just look at the trailers to the two main Star Trek series and you’ll see what the many real frontiers in that era were.

The first trailer of 1966 is all about Captain Kirk and his two reports, but shows nothing of the men. All you see is empty space and a modern spaceship. When the series restarted everything was different. In the second trailer for the Next Generation series of 1987 with Captain Picard space is magical and beautiful, the man’s voiceover is emotional, and it’s clearly all about the people on board the ship, the men and the women, the ethnic mix, the mix of natives of the known world and assimilated aliens. The issues depicted over the years included war and peace, personal loyalty, getting over authoritarianism and dealing with leadership, class warfare and economics, racism and religion, sexism and human rights and feminism, and the role of technology, which was changing. Have a look:

1966:

1987:

The progressive age may be looking a little dated, but the whole concept of a trek and a mission is still very much alive.  So back to the occasion itself: Those people setting out on the Apollo mission to land a man on the moon didn’t know how they were going to do it, and they frankly didn’t have the big picture. But they did it. This is something that I find very heartening. I really think we are an ingenious race and will always figure out how to make things work. But we do need frontiers to aim for, and the means to do it, and sometimes a visionary to push us.

Do you have a personal frontier? What are you going for?

Was ist das Blogprojekt? Mehr dazu unter Englischlernen mit Anne!

islandweeklycover300 Subscribe to the Island Weekly podcast by RSS or in iTunes.

Published by

Anne

Teaching English for business communication skills, writing online for learners, translating, sailing whenever I can, from Washington, D.C.

8 thoughts on “Question: What’s your New Frontier?”

  1. This is the first time I have visited your blog, Anne and I am thoroughly impressed. What a great idea to have the voice thread, as well.
    Then there is the issue you are discussing – extremely deep for a pre-coffee read and listen! However, extremely apt for decisions I am making, paths I am forging and frontiers I am trying to break through at the moment. All of which are starting to take form, but seemingly needing that little bit of a kick-start regularly! Thank you.
    I am now “deliciousing” your blog so I can get my weekly fix (perhaps have the coffee before hand!).
    Shonah :-)

  2. Welcome, Shonah 😀
    Thank you so much for your kind words.
    Yes, I need that kick from time to time, too. Things seem to be changing so fast. It’s really a lot like surfing, you need to be awake and aware to the moment, but also see the next wave coming.
    I think I’m going to go and have a coffee, too…
    Love reading your tweets!
    Take care!
    (For readers who haven’t met you: http://twitter.com/MissShonah)

  3. How much were you inspired by the Kennedy speech at the time, and how much AFTER the fact?
    Or were you inspired really by the images of the helmeted people exploring another world?
    I think the NASA event and the Star Trek event may be very different in their “goals”.
    NASA, Kennedy, America probobly had huge economic and political agendas that can’t really be ignored.
    Star Trek has dreams?

  4. Hi Chris,

    Sorry to be late in getting back to you. Yes, of course, Cold War top dog domination and Treckian universal harmony are complete opposites, that’s what set me off on this ramble in the first place. The article you recommend shows that space is big business and ruthless to boot. Chilling.

    Exactly, this comparison is based on the speech and its mythology, not the reality of space research. It’s about the iconography of what the moon landing came to represent. So there are quite a few very different things mashed up here (Kennedy, the actual Apollo mission team, Star Trek, the social movements) – maybe too many.

    Anne

  5. no don’t worry, you didn’t get my goat – they were genuine questions.
    I too find the Kennedy speech inspiring but this seems only to be in retrospect – i was unaware of it when he gave it it was the landings that inspired me.
    And i thought that might also be part of why a Mars mission leaves you cold as the event inspire more than the speeches.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *