The Atlantic

What Will the Moon Landing Mean to the Future?

Nearly 50 years after Neil Armstrong first set foot on the lunar surface, it’s clear that Apollo 11 will haunt the human imagination for a long time to come.
Source: NASA / Newsmakers / Getty

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series reflecting on the Apollo 11 mission, 50 years later.

Shortly before his death in 1963, the writer and theologian C. S. Lewis wrote a speculative essay about the spiritual consequences of Project Apollo, the just-commenced mission to land human beings on the moon. In the common telling, Project Apollo is a pure triumph, its ambitions and execution framed in universalist terms, its meaning singular and plain to an implied “us.” We go to the moon because it is hard and because it is there.

Even America’s space-race rivals adopted this narrative. After the first American astronauts

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