Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are making history by flying across America in a 100 percent solar-powered plane that collects enough energy during the day to fly through the night on battery power alone.
The universities and laboratories have until the end of 2015 to land their rovers, and it's only a matter of time before one succeeds. What will the rovers will do when they get to the Moon, though, is still up in the air.
If the U.S. seeks to send a manned space mission to Mars or reach similar such milestones by the end of the 2020s -- or sooner -- it need provide no more than it did in the 1960s: funding, political will, and presidential accountability.
The first era of U.S. manned spaceflight ends, and we are the adults of this nation now. Armstrong and eleven other men visited the Moon, but those of us who were watching, as young as we might have been then, are the space generation.
And so we have two men who achieved extraordinary fame through determination and diligence, but who responded to fame very differently. One exulted in his success, and became a hero of his time; the other shunned publicity, and became an enduring icon.
Now space is happening again, in ways different than before. While NASA begins to refocus on a true deep-space mission to the asteroid belt while maintaining its presence with the International Space Station, private enterprise is beginning to pick up the slack for orbital missions.
Along with other pioneering astronauts, Neil Armstrong changed the way we look at moon and what we know about the mysterious orb. On August 31, a Blue Moon will occur -- the perfect time to honor the first man on the moon!
Armstrong represented an America of really big dreams and of infinite possibility. Today, what passes for discourse in this country? Celebrity divorces? Politicians vilifying and dehumanizing one another over the relative merits of the federal budget?
Will we look back and ask ourselves whether the decision to abandon space was a wise decision? Or will historians look back and identify this decision as a textbook example of when America sacrificed long-term strategic goals for short-term interests.