Neil Armstrong brought the world to the moon. As the first man to tread on that rocky surface, he reminded us that this was not only an American achievement but another link in humanity’s aspirational chain. It was “one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.”
That happened almost 50 years ago.
Lunar landings are now back in the news, not because the marginal scientific or symbolic value of the current missions is high for mankind on Earth. Rather, it’s because national pride is driving America’s strategic competitors to escape gravity.
China and Iran both are hard at work launching and lobbing rockets into space to show that America no longer has a monopoly on technological leadership. They are also using these blast-offs and landings to warn us of their ability to match and surpass America’s scientific prowess. For good measure, they also want to remind us that they can easily land a nuke on the U.S. homeland.