It was a simple question, given rhetorically by then president John Fitzgerald Kennedy on 12 September 1962 in the baking heat of Rice University in Houston, Texas and its simplicity understated its significance
The answer, no doubt, is that they play because it is a challenge
And it is the challenge of the unknown, of being ready to seek what is over the next hill, to overcome the difficult environment that maybe there, and to persist; that is the simple explanation for why the technical achievement that was Project Apollo was undertaken and accomplished
Humanity had wanted to go for millenia and that manifested itself in myth and legend, books and film, and in the earliest days of the moving picture too. It just took a race between super powers to realise it
The challenge is still there, to go and stay and not just at the Moon. Mars looms large in peoples’ imaginations and space agencies see it as the greater goal. Humanity will go back to the Moon and do the other thing
The simple question that remains is, will the nation that leads that great endeavour speak of Rice playing Texas or Shanghai playing Beijing or Delhi playing Mumbai?