As Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped on the moon 50 years ago, we imagined a future lunar life filled with wingsuits and tourist cruisers.
n 1968, Edward Guinan was a young graduate student studying the universe from an observatory in New Zealand. And like countless members of the Apollo generation, he anticipated the moon landing by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin the following year would be the start of Manifest Destiny, lunar edition.
He believed landing on the moon was just the beginning.
"I was a space advocate, I was involved with building rockets and things of that sort, so I was a big fan of the program," Guinan, who would go on to have a pioneering career in astrophysics and planetary science at Villanova University, tells me.
Some of the observations he made in 1968 from New Zealand would eventually earn him credit for discovering a ring system around Neptune. At the time he looked forward to a coming age of new observatories on the surface of the moon that could see deeper and more clearly into the cosmos, because they would be unobstructed by any kind of weather or atmosphere.
And naturally, doing more science on the moon would require sending more scientists there, something that didn't happen much with the Apollo missions.
"Even though scientists did fly on the last [Apollo mission] they were all test pilots and things like that," Guinan recalled. "They did a good job, but they weren't trained [scientists]."
Wingsuits and dust cruisers
This early concept for a subterranean lunar base comes from the Soviet magazine, Teknika Molodezhi
Guinan was just one of many dreamers at the time who imagined a new role for the moon in the near future.
In 1967, the New York Times Magazine published an essay by famed author and robot evangelist Isaac Asimov alongside a full-page illustration of a concept for a "Lunar City."
"In the next 50 years, by the most optimistic estimate, we can place several thousand people on the moon," Asimov wrote 52 years ago. "The moon colony will be a completely new kind of society ... that might well be infinitely illuminating to the billions who will watch the process from Earth."