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What challenge should we set for our generation?

Sarah McDermott | 14:18 UK time, Thursday, 16 July 2009

Forty years ago today, a little after half past nine in the morning, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins blasted off from Cape Canaveral on board Apollo 11 on their mission to the moon.

It was a historic moment that grabbed the attention of the United States and the world.

When they safely arrived a few days later they had fulfilled President John F Kennedy's aim of reaching the moon by the end of the 1960s.


In his famous speech given before a joint session of Congress on May 25th 1961, JFK had said:

"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth."

So what kind of challenge should we set for our generation?

What similarly ambitious goal should we commit ourselves to achieving before a decade is out?

We'd like to hear your suggestions. You can leave your comments below.


  • Comment number 1.

    1. access to an nhs dentist for the whole population

    2. create and enforce financial regulation

    3. find an exit to the war in afghanistan

    actually it would be easier to send someone to mars?

  • Comment number 2.

    We have to stop the collapse of the planet's ecological life support systems in the next 3 years otherwise we don't have a generation.

    Use the example and analogy, those on board Apollo 13 nearly died when their life support systems gave up. The planet's are about to.

    Ignore the politicians and economists in the media. They know nothing.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 3.

    Having lived through the moon landings, the only thing that could possibly capture the imagination and the human spirit of exploration and adventure in the same way the Apollo missions did in the 1960's would be for NASA to land men on Mars.

    unfortunately, I doubt I will live long enough to see this happen if indeed it ever does, but the whole world was behind the USA during the moon missions and taking men to Mars would without doubt inspire a whole new generation and improve the international reputation and respect of the US in a way nothing else could possibly achieve.

  • Comment number 4.

    My apologies for being a bit hard in #2. Sustainable planetary management is very serious and I am sure that those with a background in just politics and economics might find a bit daunting.

    I have found this on the internet. Though more than 2 years old it seems to tie in nicely with this blog subject

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 5.

    wouldn't it have been great if oil was on the moon instead of in Iraq

  • Comment number 6.

    Hope Aubrey de Grey and Co make serious progress with regenerative medicine:

  • Comment number 7.

    bookhimdano #1

    All people in the UK already have access to an NHS dentist via NHS direct, takes a bit of time on the phone but they will arrange for you to see an NHS dentist ( at the local community hospital for us in the Ribble Valley ) ASAP. That is not to say that you can go in for a simple check up and polish, but perhaps the only valid reason for anyone to visit a dentist is if you are in pain, apart from perhaps a broken tooth.

  • Comment number 8.

    Reduce carbon emissions around the globe by 95% by 2025.

  • Comment number 9.

    Now that Justin Rowlatt has managed to spend time with the Amish, then he has re-defined the boundaries...

  • Comment number 10.

    Maybe getting Gordon Brown to give a straight answer to a Select Committee is enough to be getting on with for the moment ??

  • Comment number 11.

    Getting Gordon Brown out of office, I can dream.....

  • Comment number 12.

    leftieoddbod (#5) "wouldn't it have been great if oil was on the moon instead of in Iraq"

    I take it you didn't take to the Clangers?

  • Comment number 13.

    I would just like to see if we in this country of ours, manages to be able to elect a competent,honest intelligent government at last.A government that can get us all out of this terrible mess this latest one has got us in. yours, righthon

  • Comment number 14.


    Star Trek is the clue. (I have said all this before.) There they are - the (clotted) cream of technological mankind - in an enormous hymn of praise to the CLEVERNESS of Man called 'The Enterprise', yet they are all pathetically flawed psyches, with a terrifying lack of self-awareness, and consequent WISDOM.

    I takes more courage to confront ourselves than to climb, sail or trek (indeed, many do these things to escape meeting self). Why else would so few 'dare to go THERE'?

    The goal is: KNOW THYSELF!

    Haven't come far - have we!

  • Comment number 15.

    "To understand the usefulness of Quango's" ?!

  • Comment number 16.

  • Comment number 17.

    Win the Eurovision Song Contest but first: independence for Scotland!!! Oh woe is Britain ..........

  • Comment number 18.

    Now that the human being is integrated i mean "the politic of racial
    integration" but i do not know if it already whole done. He has to go to the syderals spaces not to conquer because it is unconquerable but to spread out. So the human being will see likely all that strange faces that we are used to see in movies about the outer space like "The war of the Galaxies" and other beautiful films. Be happy Nations of the World for this to come.

  • Comment number 19.

    Boom busted brown out .
    Lords replaced in 1 yr by 300 elected members . They shld have nonparty affiliation and elected by merged constituencies for a 6 year term with only 1 re election. 30 k year reduced by % non attendance; plus travel and 3 star
    hotel overnight on receipts.
    Commons to be 1 vote plus alternative to transfer step wise from
    least supported candidate up to last pair.
    Brown to go.
    All non productive non service public sector posts to be reduced by 19% by natural reduction over 4 years
    Brown out now

  • Comment number 20.

    "fit for a 6 year old"
    Meself and other wee toddlers are waiting. Oh, please dear Sir, donna say, Not fit to print. - cause the World looks lovely, indeed grand, from our point of view.

    Thanks Toby Tyler & Friends

  • Comment number 21.

    What happened to the occasional joke entitled " for a six year old"?

  • Comment number 22.

    Pie in the sky, of course, but how about the total elimination of political, diplomatic, national and personal hypocrisy?

    or, marginally more realistic, the removal of borders with the recognition that the world's ills are a world, not a national, problem.

  • Comment number 23.

    Find a way to provide clean water to everyone who currently has no access to it.

  • Comment number 24.

    D bermuda triangle remains a point yet 2 be reserched,our ability to discover the fundementals behind the triangle will even be greater than going to mars or landing on the moon.

  • Comment number 25.

    #7 Brossen99
    NHS Direct may provide access to an NHS dentist in your area, but that is extremely unusual, so you are wrong the entire population definitely does not have access to an NHS dentist.

    You are right

    ."..perhaps the only valid reason for anyone to visit a dentist is if you are in pain, apart from perhaps a broken tooth..."

    ..that is, if you are happy to eventually wear dentures and/or have a smile that looks like something out a horror movie and breath that smells like a sewer...and, of course, if you are happy to regularly endure the pain and subsequent treatment in the first place.

  • Comment number 26.

    #22 Len Richardson

    "the removal of borders with the recognition that the world's ills are a world, not a national, problem."

  • Comment number 27.

    Yes I agree about Scotland's independance(even though i thought you already had it) so could you take back our un-elected PM and all the other Scottish mp's that are Bringing England to it's knee's(They know who they are) thank you.

  • Comment number 28.

    Gordon Brown announced yesterday, that the Government has ordered 60 million doses of the H1N1 flu vaccine, enough to vaccinate everyone in the UK. What he has neglected to mention is what would happen to the UK's vaccine supply if the H1N1 strain mutates and becomes more severe than it currently is.
    The UK has no vaccine manufacturing facility within the country and is solely dependent on supplies manufactured in Europe by GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Baxter International Inc., whose production plants are in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. These three countries have a combined population of over 100 million.
    If the H1N1 virus becomes more virulent before the UK's delivery of vaccine has been produced and delivered, it is not conceivable that the political establishment in these production countries would allow vaccine to be exported to other countries before first inoculating their own populations; if they did there would be total anarchy. Just like any contract I have ever seen I am sure that the vaccine producers have a get out clause which will allow them to divert pre ordered doses to their own population.
    A recent news item stated that the production process of producing the vaccine has proved to be not as successful as was hoped, adding even more pressure to the supply chain. In past years these manufactures have had serious difficulty in producing enough vaccine to support the regular Global flu season, so what are the chances that they will be able to produce sufficient quantities of the regular flu season vaccine and enough H1N1 vaccine to inoculate the world's population. The production of flu vaccine requires a lead time of about six months before the season begins; assuming the production of the H1N1 vaccine was started within a month of the Mexico outbreak in May the first vaccine would not be available until November.
    We have been told that we will receive our first vaccine doses at the end of August, and the first sector of the population to receive it will be members of essential services, Doctors, nurses, police, fire, government etc. From this fact we are looking at around 5million doses, if we extrapolate these figures for just the European Union which has a population of 1/2 a billion people it would require a minimum of 35 million doses off the top just to keep essential services running. If we add the 100 million doses the three countries that produce the vaccine, will need to protect their own population we are looking at 135 million doses required before the public see one dose for themselves. This figure does not even take into account the 300 million doses ordered by the USA
    The point is we are not being told the truth, the numbers just don't add up. We as a population are being fed this Pandemic in bite sized sound bites. The effect to the Worlds already weak economy will be catastrophic. Our only hope is that the N1H1 virus becomes no more virulent than it already is, because the alternative is something I don't even want to consider.

  • Comment number 29.

    Calm down anglophile8 it's about time a couple of billion of us died off around the world, I'm at high risk if I get the virus, but I'm not bothered. Haven't you heard of the millions who died of the 'flu outbreak after WWI. Although come to that I might be immune from the current outbreak, my mother and her father, my grandfather both had that 'flu and survived. We are not going to survive for much longer anyway, we will run out of food and resources, let alone vaccine. Anyway Gordon Browns got it all in hand he's leaving our borders open to the world, so we'll soon be repopulated! ; )

  • Comment number 30.

    ecolizzy (#29) I keep getting flashes of that film made by the Nazi propaganda machine which showed rats scurrying around. I'm sure such thoughts are verbotten, but the image keeps popping up nonetheless. I fear history may well be repeating itself largely because we were all taught the wrong lesson. However bad socialist Britain was after the war through to 1979, it was good enough to sustain reasonably decent 'British' behaviour. That is no longer the case, and I suspect it's essentially down to the demise of our national socialism. Political Correctness came along with the Conservatives and their anarchism.

  • Comment number 31.

    #29 Ecolizzy

    It's OK Ecolizzy anglophile was concerned with the economy.

    "The effect to the Worlds already weak economy will be catastrophic."

    Anglphile don't worry you have been believing too much that gordon brown and the rest of the world leading numpty club has been telling you. A weak economy is good. Less consumption means the planet will last longer.

    The sun will still shine the grass will still grow and the stars will come out at night, with or without an economy.

    Nothing that ever happens to an economy can ever be considered remotely catastrophic. This planet has been getting along fine without an economy for 4,500 millon years. Do you really think it would miss one now?

    Celtic Lion


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