This article appears in the June 21, 2019 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
The Artemis Generation
On May 13, 2019, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced the name of NASA’s program to return astronauts to the Moon in 2024—“Artemis.” In Greek mythology, Artemis was the twin of Apollo and the goddess of the Moon. She governed hunting, wild animals, and the wilderness. The Frontiers!
EIR: This is Robert Ingraham with EIR, and I am speaking this evening, June 13, with Michael Steger, the West Coast spokesman for LaRouche PAC, on the subject of the Artemis Generation.
Mike, on June 5th, LaRouche PAC published a short document entitled, “The Project Artemis Generation: To the Moon and Beyond,” a statement which I believe you authored. What was your thinking that led you to write it?
Michael Steger: I see myself as part of the Artemis Generation. It’s probably why this strikes such a chord. There are two different factors to this—two different factors to the Artemis Generation. I’m 41 now, and for people my age there’s an experience which has been unique in the sense of the kind of fraud and the level of deceit and criminal nature of our government and of our society over these last 20-some years. It started really—I think the turning point was the 9/11 attack. As we know, EIR has covered this, LaRouche PAC has covered this, that the attacks on 9/11 were a British conspiracy run with the Bush administration and Saudi factors.
It was an attempted coup, and Lyndon LaRouche really said this. I have had the privilege to work with Lyndon LaRouche for about 17 years, and I came around this organization and his ideas in the wake of that attack. My response was to join this movement; many other people my age, who had come into adulthood just before or just after these 9/11 attacks, responded based on the good faith of the government to say that this was an attack by an enemy operation, and many men and women went off to war to fight this. And many people supported that; many people believed this was what was necessary for the country.
September 11, 2001: British Terror
There were many brothers and sisters or aunts and uncles and parents of these children who went off to this war. They did this with the sense that their life meant something; they did it with the sense that their society, their nation, their civilization meant something, much like what we saw recently with the D-Day anniversary. There are these echoes of people who had sacrificed themselves really heroically, like on D-Day, for something much greater than themselves. There was that response. I think it’s an intrinsic characteristic of human identity. When you have this great challenge, you have what is presented to you as a great and immediate crisis; this quality of identity from the better people—the more sensitive, the more honest people of society respond. The natural leaders of society respond in that way.
But these wars were based on lies, wars based on the criminal intent of our own government under Bush and Obama. Many people ended up then in these horrible conflicts and wars, and as we now know, many of these people have come back either maimed or psychologically scarred; the suicide rates of veterans are way up. Others didn’t come back. It’s affected a generation. I’ve interacted with a number of these veterans. I think many people have.
There is also another quality of person within this generation, and this is what NASA Administrator Bridenstine has referenced. This is a generation that was born after the Apollo landings. Really the greatest accomplishment of our country, maybe of our civilization, was to put a man on the Moon, especially in the time-frame that we did it. It’s been 50 years, this July, since the first landing on the Moon. It’s hard to imagine that they put a man on the Moon within 25 years of D-Day, with technology that seems almost like a horse and buggy compared to the computer technologies and space technologies that we have available today. Yet, they were able to accomplish that mission. It’s been 50 years since we’ve done that. But this is a generation born after that was done.
There’s all this talk of advances in our society, but if you are an honest person, and you look at the situation, you look at the college education—it’s crap. Many people who went to college think that college was a waste of time; and that’s an accurate view in most cases. You might learn a few things, but in general, you learn more on the job; you learn more in the professional commitment you made in the process of work, than you ever did with this college educational system.
So, this generation knows that our society had accomplished something remarkable. And the question comes up: Is there a way to do something remarkable today? Is there a way of solving the problems in the world today? I think more and more people are confronting that. There’s also this echo, this sense that there is something missing, something missing that we need to devote ourselves to—something as a mission orientation. We need something greater than ourselves. We’ve had all these self-help books, all this kind of “me generation”—the self-absorption, the kind of Baby Boomer epitome of “my experience, my life, my pleasure.” For the more honest people who see the corruption in our society, we want something more; we don’t want to live based on our experiences or our personal pleasure or our social status. We want to dedicate and devote ourselves to something.
The Moon-Mars Mission
This mission presented by President Trump and his NASA Administrator Bridenstine created a Moon-Mars directorate. It’s an entirely new directorate in NASA. There’s a commitment to it; it’s a commitment not just to put flags and footprints, as the President’s space memo started off with. It’s not just footprints and flags. We’re going to the Moon in a sustainable way; it changes the environmentalist view of “sustainable.” It means we’re going to industrialize the Moon; we’re going to develop a long-term capacity on the Moon. And ultimately, if we’re going to do anything on Mars, which is the discussion, it’s going to take really a generation of industrial and economic activity to maintain people on the Moon, to develop the capabilities, to develop the robotics, to develop the launch capacity, the energy supply.
We will have to run a massive energy supply, even to put robotics on Mars on a large scale; you need a massive energy supply. That means we have to learn how to deploy that and get it operational. There are a lot of things we have to learn on the Moon, which as Bridenstine and others have said, the Moon is a three-day trip. Mars is—maybe one day we can get it down to three weeks—but it’s three to nine months now.
Bridenstine, as he himself said, was born after Apollo landed, but he knows it happened. And there is this question: Why would any society ever stop? Why did we stop? All of the conspiracy theories out there only exist because it’s so irrational that any society would have stopped, that we must have actually never gone. In reality, our society had become that irrational, and there’s a sense that we now are going back. And we’re going to it in a completely different way with a scientific orientation; not just simply as a political challenge of “can we do it?” or an engineering challenge of “can it be done?”—but this time with a sense that it’s going to fundamentally change our society.
Creating Generation Artemis
As I said, there are two aspects to this question of the Artemis Generation. First is the question of leadership. This is a generation that has seen the criminal fraud of our government over the last 20 years, but many have made major sacrifices to overcome that, whether they fought in the wars, or they fought with the LaRouche movement to challenge these policies, to challenge this government system. There is a leadership quality there, one which is now going to implement and fight for this kind of policy and vision.
The other aspect is, how do you now develop a next generation to really surpass the current social characteristics that we see, the cultural neuroses that we see implemented by the Silicon Valley orientation, Wall Street, the music culture? This begins with education. Many people criticize the current education programs, the structure, the content. But you have to ask yourself a real question. How do you create a new generation of teachers who can then teach a whole new generation of young people?
So, in this case, we’re now talking two generations. To create a generation of teachers in the next generation, and then for those teachers to then build up an entirely new generation of development. So Bridenstine called this the Artemis Generation; this mission to the Moon and Mars shaping this process. I would invert it, and say Generation Artemis is this process of three generations of development. You ask yourself, how do we create a new cadre of high-quality teachers? You have to start with a very small, select grouping of people that are of the greatest moral commitment. They have a sense of, as Helga Zepp-LaRouche has emphasized, the aesthetic quality, a sense of beauty, a sense of beauty of mankind in the universe. The beauty and quality of the human to grasp the universe.
Think of these astronauts, the people participating in this, the perspective that they gain. We’ve had a glimpse of this with the International Space Station, but what we’re discussing now is actually having a sustained, manned base on the Moon. And from that permanent lunar perspective, having the ability to look back on Earth’s civilization, on the unique characteristic of the Earth in our universe and the human species in our universe; and to then begin to educate a whole generation of school children around questions of science, questions of industry, questions of energy supply, questions of culture, questions of language. What language will we speak on the Moon? Because it won’t just be the United States. India has a lunar plan; China has a lunar program; Russia has a lunar program; Europe has a lunar program. Japan is working on a lunar program.
So, there are going to be these questions of what kind of culture is created on the Moon? Today, with this platform of the internet, there is a capacity to bring in, to educate, from a small handful of these astronauts and the people involved in the space program, to start educating to reach every school, every classroom from K-12 into developing a new generation.
Science Driver for Economic Progress
So, we have to conceptualize the next 10-20 years of lunar development, to a broad industrial scale of economic activity, and we can discuss what that might entail. These are some of the aspects, maybe as a rough sketch, of what I see with this question of Generation Artemis. It is inspired by this Moon-Mars mission and Administrator Bridenstine’s own perspective of at least locating the specific event of Artemis Generation: getting us back to the Moon in a sustained way, and looking to Mars. But that is going to vector an entirely broad change in the way we can organize and develop our society, away from this kind of criminal corruption that we’ve seen these last 20 years.
EIR: A lot of people get very pessimistic about the youth culture. They see the domination of Hollywood, some of the worst aspects of the internet and social media, and now the move for legalized drugs across the United States. Yet, in all of the speeches that he has given over the recent months, NASA Administrator Bridenstine has, as you said, stressed again and again, “We are the Artemis Generation.” He’s really identifying this as potentially a new identity, a new culture for young people who are coming into adulthood, for young people who are in high school or middle school now, or college. He speaks repeatedly about his 11-year-old daughter and what he wants to see as the opportunities for her.
Steger: Yes, it was striking—Bridenstine gave a presentation at Florida Tech, which is where this idea initially came up. He gave a whole presentation on what the lunar program looks like between now and 2024, and to 2028. The idea is, by 2024 to have the first woman and next man on the Moon; and then by 2028 to have a sustained operation where we even have the ability for reusable landers. You have kind of an infrastructure set-up where the process becomes a sustainable development of a permanent manned base. So, he goes through this; it’s about an hour-long presentation. Then he takes a few questions afterwards.
One of the questions comes from a professor at the University of Central Florida. The first thing he says is, “This is probably the most inspiring speech I have ever heard.” Then he says, “What role do you see for the universities, and how do you see our ability to inspire young people to participate in this?” Bridenstine’s answer to that question was revealing: He emphasized that the universities would have a unique specific role in early research, as well as analyzing a lot of the discoveries on the Moon in terms of soil content, and exploring different ideas of what are actually the scientific questions about the universe that are accessible on the Moon that aren’t accessible elsewhere.
If you take what I initially developed about the Iraq War and 9/11—take someone like Edward Snowden. Here was a student who was highly engaged in computers. Take the issue of Silicon Valley and the computer orientation of students. Many of them are not necessarily excited about logical language systems and programming. Most of them are excited about science; they like science, and then they’re directed toward computers. Silicon Valley itself developed out of the space program, and 90 percent of the young people, or at least a large number, got involved in this because of questions like the space program, and science and technology. They didn’t want to work at Facebook or Google. It’s just that that’s where the money is, that’s where the social direction and social vectors are.
Edward Snowden was similar. He was brought in to go to work and volunteer for the Iraq War. He got sucked into the NSA operation, and then he realizes our whole government has become a criminal apparatus. He had the courage to say that this is absolutely wrong, and he risked his entire life. It was really a very provocative experience; he was really an indication of a younger generation that was not going to tolerate this corruption any longer.
A Paradigm Shift Away from Pessimism
I think this is intrinsic in young people. So what Bridenstine has done, is not just to say this is an “important mission.” He sees it—as you reference—that what he’s doing today is fundamentally going to alter the course of his 11-year-old daughter’s life. Whatever she’ll do, whatever she participates in, if he can accomplish the mission he has in front of him over the next ten years, by the time she’s an educated and developed independent adult at 21-22 years old, she will have opportunities and abilities to participate in a society that are unlike anything that she would have available right now, or that people over the last 20 years have really thought about.
There is that excitement; there is an excitement that our lives mean something. But this is not something unusual, except in the context of the last 50 years. Up until 50 years ago, this was an intrinsic characteristic of American society. You see it going all the way back to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. You see it in the historical figures that people often reference. The American generations, the families, handed their children always a better and greater potential within their lifetime. We’ve certainly seen that since Lincoln, and then Roosevelt. It’s always taken great leadership; it’s always taken a response from the population to great leadership—to concede to that, to assent to that leadership. But it’s been that unique, American dynamic to create that, and to fight for that sense of scientific and technological progress to create a better future for the next generation.
So, what Bridenstine really did was to regain what President Trump has referenced, and what EIR and the LaRouche organization have been fighting for, for 50 years. It’s the revival of what Hamilton had really shaped the U.S. Constitutional idea around.
There has now been additional funding requested, $1.6 billion. There’s some hemming and hawing politically in Congress, but it’s very likely that this will be provided. This will go directly to accomplishing the manned mission within the next five years. So, it’s real; it’s not just talk. There’s a commitment. But there’s also a conceptual idea of this, which really grabs people. Bridenstine himself was a naval fighter pilot, but there is a different sense of what the nature of this mission is: It’s not a war against Russia and China; it’s not a war against terrorism: it’s a war against our own stupidity.
We’re not going to win it if we don’t decide to go back to a sense of progress through science and technology. I think that’s what is captured, and I think that’s the general aspect of this whole dynamic that we’re now starting to see.
A Mission Orientation
I can say that in terms of young people responding, as people have pointed to before: 75 percent of the internet is pornography; there’s a lot of problems with it. But you also find platforms like YouTube, which of course is probably the more interesting platform, because it’s just a lot of video material that people can post and share and make publicly available. It’s not identity oriented, like Facebook or Twitter; you’re not building up a persona. You’re just offering material. What we’re finding is that there’s a self-education culture developing. There are channels which are oriented toward helping bring alive some of the more complicated mathematics to a more visual and animated domain, and there are millions of subscribers to channels devoted to these questions. Millions of subscribers devoted to learning about science in everyday matters.
Last night, I watched a video on grain containers; there was a guy who did a whole ten-minute video on grain containers and how they’re built, how they function, and how they’re critical for maintaining the food supply of the country. But there are millions of subscribers to this guy’s channel, who does videos on things that are about science, engineering, and industry in the real world. There are millions of subscribers to entire channels dedicated to space exploration. These are the people out there who are hungry and looking for these things. who are bored at school, who are bored by television, who are bored by the radio stations. The internet has provided a unique opportunity to find areas where their minds can be provoked. There is an ability to really educate this generation.
But it is missing something! It’s missing that mission orientation, and people who are doing something that’s never been done before. Because education is not about learning about how something works. That’s useful, but to really educate a generation to really think creatively, you have to provoke them into thinking about something that is being done for the first time. And the people engaged in it, are having to think about doing something that’s never been done before.
So, this takes us to the Moon-Mars mission. The astronauts are not just simply on the Moon; they’re not just growing plants; they’re not just building systems on the lunar surface, or whatever other experiments they might be doing. It’s going to have to be thought about in an entirely different way. And it’s that quality of discovery that’s coming from this quality of leadership, and this kind of cadre of teachers that will then start to bring an entirely different level of content and a transformed ability to educate.
We will not be dependent on the major media to cover this. Remember, during Apollo, by the third time we landed on the Moon, the network television channels didn’t even want to cover it. But today we’ll have live feeds; you’ll have people able to engage with these astronauts in an ongoing discussion process, including with the entire program. This stuff will be streaming all over the place.
Looking to the Stars
Bridenstine himself is giving a speech almost every other day; he’s going around to all the various NASA facilities and giving town hall meetings and engaging the workforce so that they themselves are brought in. He did one recently in Ohio. And you can see some of the faces; there’s a cynical nature to some of the expressions. “Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard this before.” There was skepticism that “We’ve heard this before with Constellation.” So, you have to sort of pull people out of the mud of this.
But think about the capability to engage not only the people at NASA, not just in school systems with perhaps a class every week broadcast from the Moon—but engaging the entire population with whatever class series these astronauts want to give! Whatever class series other people engaged in making breakthroughs on propulsion systems want to give. How do we get to Mars? You can’t use normal rocket fuel; it just takes too long. You need a different propulsion system: people making breakthroughs in these areas, and breakthroughs that are created because more people are engaged in a scientific industrial process. They will be able to share their ideas and to communicate with an entire society that’s willing and wanting to participate; where people can self-select themselves and develop an understanding, develop a way of thinking. Of course, the critical part is to get the hands-on development.
The potential is unbounded. The real question is how we bring the mind—the human mind—back to address the cultural process of our society. And the Artemis Generation and Project Artemis and this Moon-Mars mission—altogether—are really bringing the human mind back to a cultural sense of significance. It’s the priority: engaging in mission. engaging in development. Engaging in exploration for the benefit of mankind is the very reason—it’s the measured and the measure—it’s the very reason why we are human.
EIR: Thank you.