For my project I am analyzing the space program from the point of view of technogenesis and public media. Technogenesis refers to the co-evolution of the relationship of humans with technology. We build tools to help us solve problems and maser out environment but these tools reshape our spatial and temporal relationship and even our ideas and concepts. For this blog I will be showing how the first steps on the moon have given the public a new sense of being human. It has changed our conceptions of space, time, gender, age, race and power. We were also able to obtain priceless moon rocks creating material metaphor showing there’s more outside our atmosphere.
Since Apollo 8, which was the first American capsule to orbit the moon it was able to broadcast the Earth on TV while orbiting the moon. This created a sense of what is human and perhaps equally important that the earth appears as one planet with humans inseparable from their environment. Apollo 11 followed with astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Alrdren who were able to reach the moon and to be congratulated by President Nixon over the phone. Over 600 million viewers watched the first steps on the moon live on television making it the most watched show. This inspired young scientists and developed a path for the public to learn about space exploration.
This created a new perspective on something that defines us while Neil Armstrong’s quote “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” illuminates this. Apollo 11 was able to place an American flag both a material metaphor and a symbol of this technogenesis. This flag represents the effort and technological advances that allowed us travel to the moon and win the geopolitical space race. Normally planting a flag is associated with conquering new territory or winning a war. This accomplishment has shown humans love the challenge and can accomplish anything, which is to say master the environment. While the space program emphasized the importance of saving the ecology of the planet and perhaps planting a seed to even consider the Gaia Hypothesis, which places humans on an equal co-evolution footing with other life.
The space program forced humans to reconsider a number of social aspects. Including who would be entitled to newly found land or would it undertake the same values of capitalism in the newly dominated space? In response to that the United Nations sponsored an Outer Space Treaty, which allowed outer space to be a common ground. Also the international Moon Treaty of 1979 forbid the private property ownership of the moon. However Russia did not sign onto these.
In conclusion the space program was much more than just rockets going to the moon. It has led in motion a interaction with humans that has reproduced our set of values which at the same time changing them. Including values about age, gender, property rights, what is human and out relationship to other species, as well as the relationship between people and the environment.