There hasn’t been a manned mission beyond low-Earth orbit since the final Apollo moon landing in 1972. NASA’s last manned U.S. mission anywhere was in 2011, when the Obama administration scrapped the space shuttle program. Since then, astronauts have been hitching rides to the International Space Station aboard Russian spacecraft.

Perhaps, then, it’s merely a sign of these resurgent nationalistic times that talk of sending people into deep space is once again in vogue. Or maybe it’s a sudden desire of wealthy Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to escape a planet that, once again, seems too consumed with feuding and tribalism.

Either way, a renewed space race – this one shaping up between multinational corporations and governments – could do a lot to sow unity around the world through the common language of science.

President Trump’s administration has been pushing NASA to accelerate the timeline of a trip around the moon, long planned for 2021. The U.S., Trump said in his inaugural address, is “ready to unlock the mysteries of space.”

In that, he has a like-minded ally in Elon Musk, the entrepreneur who is determined to launch a manned mission to colonize Mars in the coming years to ensure that humans become an interplanetary species.

In the meantime, Musk said Monday, his company SpaceX has taken on a high-stakes side project: ferrying two wealthy tourists to the moon and back. The weeklong journey, which could happen next year, would take the unidentified pair past the lunar surface and outward before the spacecraft surrenders to the pull of gravity and heads back to Earth. The trip would cover between 300,000 and 400,000 miles.\

So far, the spacecraft that would carry the two would-be space tourists are years behind schedule and haven’t even flown yet. Still, in classic, swaggering space race fashion, Musk isn’t too worried. “This should be a really exciting mission,” he told The Associated Press, “that hopefully gets the world really excited about sending people into deep space again.”

Indeed, it’s time America set its sights a little higher.

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