Has Anyone Noticed We Are Going Back to the Moon in 4 Years?
Maj. Matt Mason
In the late 1960s Mattel’s Man In Space, Major Matt Mason was my inspiration. He was a bendable action figure of the time in a white spacesuit and helmet. Major Matt Mason was the iconic astronaut hero who would conquer the lunar surface. He had an assortment of accessories to do this task such as a space crawler and a moon base. The entire toy line did not depend on any Saturday Morning Cartoon to act as a catalyst. The United States Space Program was all that was necessary.
The Apollo program ended. The Space Shuttle program returned America to space. The International Space Station provided a destination. The media focused on only the shuttle disasters and the expense of space travel. Daily space operations received no news coverage. Only a brief video clip of shuttle launches or landings were in the news. A generation of children found inspiration in unrealistic science fiction.
NASA has returned to its fundamental mission, human exploration. We are returning to the moon with the Artemis Program in 2024. Are our children aware of this?
Toys are a leading indicator of what children are going to engage in in the future. Space exploration is not a high priority.
Today’s Toys are Yesterday’s Technology
I did a completely unscientific survey to gauge children’s interest in space. A search of astronaut toys on Amazon revealed 14 toys on the first page of the search were space shuttles. The final shuttle mission was in 2011. Most of the children receiving one of those toys would not have been born during the shuttle era. The rest of the selection included a few Apollo era toys and many more simple generic designs.
What will inspire our children and grandchildren to become the first humans to live on the surface of another world? Do the first Martians crawl, toddle or walk among us today? Are they playing with toy space ships only found in museums?
Toys for Grown-ups
Modern rocketry and space exploration toys are available for adults. A Falcon 9 replica is around $160, a Lego ISS is around $70. Neither toy will stand up to the authentic play of a child. A search of official NASA toys only shows past technology. Space X only sells apparel and patches.
If You Can’t Play It, Live It
Maybe authentic space toys are not necessary when children can live in the future that we could only imagine. Go to spaceflightnow.com for the latest information on space launches. Watch a Falcon 9 launch and the first stage land live with your children or grandchildren. Download an ISS app. then go outside with your children and watch the ISS as it flies 250 above your home. Watch astronauts work and live on the ISS on NASA television. Buy an inexpensive telescope and look at the craters on the lunar surface with your children. Observe the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. If your children can not have the toys to imagine life in space then you can give them the ability to watch life in space as it happens.