In the wake of Neil Armstrong’s passing away yesterday, it seems that most of the world is in mourning. It was, to me, extremely touching to see you using your Twitter feed to pay your own tribute to him. I agree with you, that Neil Armstrong was a hero of all time.
I think Neil, and both what he did and what he represented, showed the very best of the human spirit. Through Neil, we reached out from this world and touched the universe beyond the sky. In all of our achievements to date, that has to rank most highly.
It inspired generations down the line, all the way to me. Even though it was long before my time, the names Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, as well as Armstrong’s words as he took those first momentous steps, have always resonated deeply with me.
So what better tribute could you, America, and the world make to such a great man, than to carry on in that spirit? Apollo 11 showed us how much mankind could achieve, when we put our mind to it. That hasn’t changed. We can still dream big, and make those dreams come true.
I believe that we can put a man on Mars. I believe we can do it easily within my lifetime. And though I will never see dawn on the Red Planet with my own eyes, I know that my children, my grandchildren and my descendent down the line can do so.
The USA leads the world, and in space travel particularly. Few institutions have as much respect around the world as does NASA. Whilst I believe that any manned mission to Mars should and must be international, it is foolishness to thing that there is anyone better suited or better able to lead it than the USA and NASA.
You are frequently referred to as the most powerful man in the world. If that is true, what better way to show it than to make the announcement and pledge the money to put a human being on the surface of Mars in the next twenty years. It can be done, and in doing so we can inspire generations to come to be their best and accomplish all that they can. What better way to lift the people of planet Earth out of their petty troubles and disagreements, and realise the extent of their abilities?
As I said, I wasn’t able to see Neil Armstrong land on the moon. My parents were, and have spoken of it to me many times. But I know that I can have the same experience, watching an astronaut taking the first steps on Mars. And, Mr President, you have the power to make this dream of billions a reality.
Matthew S. Dent
SF writer and lifelong dreamer