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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Jan/Feb 2019 > THE FINAL FRONTIER


Man’s first steps on the Moon seemed like the beginning of an extraordinary new chapter for humanity.

But fifty years after the Apollo 11 space mission, our dreams of travelling further afield may never become a reality

On 21st July 1969, the world was transfixed as Neil Armstrong took his “giant leap for mankind” and stepped on to the surface of the Moon. In the United Kingdom viewers huddled around their new colour television sets, only to discover that the lunar images were in a grainy black and white. In other corners of the Earth these were the first images people had seen on any television. I seem to have been one of the few who missed it. In that pre-internet age I was out of contact, in an old propeller-driven aeroplane, quite unlike the Concorde which had taken its first test flight just a few months before Armstrong’s adventure.

My own memory of that era, when science assumed its most dominant position in the collective imagination and the promise of technology seemed limitless, is of seven months earlier—Christmas Eve, 1968. On that day William Anders, an astronaut on the Apollo 8 mission that circumnavigated the Moon, captured “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.” His snap revealed a stark barren moonscape, while above the horizon, against the black void of limitless space, hovered the blue jewel of Earth. The image encapsulated our planet’s vulnerability and would in time inspire the beginning of the environmental movement.

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In Prospect’s January/February double issue: A host of writers and personalities explain what they think will be the most important thing we need to learn in the new year. From Justin Welby arguing for new emphasis on learning to forgive and Lord Neuberger on the importance of a free judiciary to Hannah Fry on AI and Cathy Newman on what happens next for #MeToo—Prospect has it all. Elsewhere in the issue: Fintan O’Toole looks at Brexit from an Irish perspective, Wendell Steavenson dishes the dirt on what really happens to the waste you want to recycle, Frank Close questions why—half a century after our last visit—we’ve not been back to the Moon. Also, Michael Blastland argues that we’re ignoring the upsides of having an alcoholic drink and Clive James explores the life of Philip Larkin.