Hadrian’s Wall more or less marks the high water mark of the Roman Empire in Britain. It was built to defend the frontier of the Roman controlled portion of the island. Another, lesser known wall was later built further north. That one, the Antonine Wall, was built, but proved indefensible. The Romans, unable to hold the northern territory, fell back to Hadrian’s Wall and it became the border until Rome finally retreated from Britain. The wall today is a reminder of the limit of the reach of power. Rome was in some ways already in decline when the decision was made to push no further, to stop and literally build a wall.
I thought of that history today, when I read of Pr. Obama’s decision to kill the Constellation program. We aren’t going back to the moon. We aren’t going to build a next-gen heavy lift rocket or a new lunar lander. We’re pulling back. We left our high water mark behind in 1972 with the last Apollo mission. Perhaps someone will one day return to the moon, but it will not be us, and it will not happen in my lifetime.
Sic transit gloria mundi (Thus passes the glory of the world)
–From the old Papal Coronation Ceremony