JOHN NOBLE WILFORD remembers Sputnik.

Plus, these depressing thoughts: “Some space age. It has been 35 years since anybody was on the Moon, or more than 300 miles from Earth, for that matter. ”

While there are some bright spots on the private-space side, it’s hard to argue against the proposition that the government’s space program has been a bust for the last 35+ years.

John Tierney has some thoughts on what should come next, with a proposal for the world’s plutocrats: “You’re too late to start a new age of exploration — Nikita S. Khrushchev and John F. Kennedy beat you to it — but a new world is there for the taking. Why waste your money on football teams or America’s Cup yachts when you could send the first humans to Mars?” Plus this advice: “Whether you offer a prize or send your own expedition, insist that the ship carrying the first humans to Mars be named after you. Sure, you’ll be accused of egotism, but pay the critics no heed. They’ll be dead soon enough. Your name will live forever.”