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50 Years After ‘One Giant Leap,’ We Must Take ‘One Small Step’ Towards the Next Moonshot

July 20, 1969: Following a decades-long pursuit of monetary and intellectual energy for a once-in-a-lifetime moment of unrivaled ingenuity, coupled with the bravery of astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, the United States successfully landed a man (well, three men) on the moon.

“That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Still an astonishing achievement 50 years later.

As part of the celebration and necessary reminder of that historic journey into the ever-expansive and unforgiving darkness of space, let’s recall the presidential charge given by John F. Kennedy back in 1962.

Interestingly, my parents attended the “JFK Space Summit” at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum on June 19, 2019. One of the panels, “NASA: From the Moon to Mars 7 Beyond” featured Apollo 11 Lunar Command Module pilot Michael Collins. Moreover, Douglas Brinkley signed copies of his new book American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race. My parents bought one of those signed books, which they will hopefully allow me to borrow so I can learn in-depth facts of that amazing journey as chronicled by a New York Times bestselling author.

Listening to President Kennedy’s unambiguous message to Americans is still an astonishingly ambitious — and uniquely American — declaration more than 50 years later.

While there is a long list of awe-inspiring films made about space with a certain reliance on realism– ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ ‘Interstellar,’ ‘Gravity,’ ‘Apollo 13,’ ‘The Right Stuff’ — the documentaries and based-on-real-events’ film ‘First Man’ about the famed Apollo 11 mission take on a different gravity of storytelling.

CNN’s ‘Apollo 11’ documentary along with the July 12th-release of the documentary ‘Armstrong’ that is narrated by the quintessentially rebellious American voice of Harrison Ford celebrates and takes us back to how that triumphant mission came together for this country as well as mankind.

Here is the trailer for ‘Armstrong.’

According to reviews, ‘Armstrong’ does not live up to fellow 2019 documentary ‘Apollo 11’ or the major motion picture ‘First Man’ yet it still provides insights into the man who seemed destined to help perform the moonshot of all moonshots.

On that note, what will be America’s next “moonshot”?

There will be no shortage of ideas in the coming week as we celebrate the Apollo 11 mission that was a giant leap 50 years ago, forever holding a unique space in human history.

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Make Room (Or Space) for ‘Ad Astra’ on 9/20/19

It seems as if major Hollywood studios have unintentionally (or intentionally) designated this week as a new movie trailer week.

On that note, the list of movies that take place in space is long and expansive. As in really long and expansive. Particularly in recent years, there’s clearly been interest from moviemakers in LA and demand from audiences worldwide who want to travel to space via the silver screen sans the otherworldly price tag with acting’s biggest headline-grabbers. Just since 2013, films like ‘Gravity,’ ‘Interstellar,’ ‘The Martian,’ ‘Passengers,’ ‘Hidden Figures’ and ‘First Man’ (to name just a few) have explored space, based either on a true story or with a fairly high degree of realism within a fictional story to critical and box office success. Leading A-list actors and actresses in these aforementioned films include Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Damon, Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Octavia Spencer, and Ryan Gosling.

And now fellow A-List actor Brad Pitt wants in on the action with his new space thriller called ‘Ad Astra,’ which is Latin for “to the stars.”

Interestingly, Liv Tyler portrays Brad Pitt’s wife who remains on earth while her husband ventures into the unknown in the heavens above for a mission revolving around the existence of this planet, which is oddly reminiscent of her role in the 1998 movie ‘Armageddon.’

Hmmm…

Anyways, the plot seems intertwined with exciting action sequences and personal relationships — near and far — that will surely reveal the true purpose of this film involving the enigmatic father character portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones as well as potentially ushering in the newest chapter in 21st-century science fiction. One of ‘Ad Astra’ director James Gray’s films is the 2015 documentary ‘Hitchcock/Truffaut.’ With this in mind, we should keep a keen eye on whether Mr. Gray (who wrote and directed ‘Ad Astra’) utilized any suspenseful techniques made famous by Mr. Hitchcock. For a movie that takes place in space with infinite scale, weaving in Hitchcock thrills via claustrophobia, for example, would bring a level of closeness to a story that will prioritize every ounce of available oxygen.

We know what ‘Ad Astra’ means in Latin, but what does it mean cinematically in 2019? Does the movie’s poster playfully reveal any clues?

ad-astra-poster

While the eye immediately goes to the astronaut’s warped movement in space — which is tantalizingly puzzling — why is the “R” in the title sliced in half in the poster? And then there’s the movie’s tag line, “The answers we seek are just outside our reach.” That suggests a new dimension in space with a Gandalf-caliber “You shall not pass” barrier. Where have we seen that before?

‘Ad Astra’ arrives in a theater near you on September 20.

Happy Monday!

Mankind first walked on the moon on July 20, 1969, by way of American astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. In 2019, NASA is beginning to plan how mankind will, well, see for yourself…

NASA’s ambition, as displayed in its video declaration seen above, is American ingenuity at its finest.

“We are going.”

Have a Better Week Than Last Week. 

Revisiting the Golden Record’s Space in Human (and Non-Human) History

Forget talking with aliens. Instead, they might respond to a playlist. This was the logic in the late ’70s.

For this Throwback Thursday, join me in revisiting an actual musical playlist that was blasted into space a few decades ago with the sincere hope of being found by and listened to by, yes, aliens.

A couple of years ago, I made an investment on Kickstarter to receive a replica reproduction of the Golden Record. Reproduced and organized by Ozma Records, this was an opportunity that was too good to pass up. Listening to the eclectic soundtrack — songs and sounds of nature, like rain — it is truly unique to living on Earth.

Of course, there are plenty of additions that could and should be added from 40 years ago. More popular songs plus a few blockbuster, culture-altering movies, as well as classic TV shows, would be added for the Golden Record: Part II.

One of these new film additions would have to be ‘Independence Day.’