posted 07-17-2013 04:15 PM
Just back from an interesting and informative 1 hour discussion/reflection on JFK and the legacy of the Apollo Moonshot as regards space exploration.
There was a crowd of 50-60 in attendance at the National Library for the free event which is a prelude to the Festival of (Science) Curiosity.
RTE Radio 2FM's Rick O'Shea was an incisive and entertaining moderator for the panel as a self-confessed space-nut. Irish Times tech journalist Karlin Lillington provided a personal perspective on the Apollo era as a young child in the 60s. Trinity College Dublin's Dr. Joe Roche and Institute of Technology Tallaght's Dr. Kevin Nolan provided the technical perpective.
The discussion was preceded by footage of the Apollo era accompanied by a background soundtrack of the iconic 1962 Rice Stadium JFK Moon speech. Rick observed later to me that inspection of the original copy of that speech revealed that JFK had deleted a number of religious references from the text.
The discussion covered the politics of the Cold War and US-USSR co-operation, the technological legacy of Apollo, possible future lunar colonisation, commercial space exploration, the fickle nature of the public's interest in space, and the current and future exploration of Mars. Kevin Nolan sagely observed that a manned Mars landing will probably only occur at some future point when there is a particular confluence of political, technical, fiscal, and cultural factors that make such a mission an imperative.
Overall, quite an enjoyable hour.