At 9:08 pm 13 April 1970, about 321,000 kilometres from Earth and slated to land a lunar module on the moon to deliver 2 astronauts, Apollo 13’s “oxygen tank No. 2 blew up, causing the No. 1 tank to also fail”. For the next 3 and a half days the crew and mission control overcame a number of critical failures to the vessel, safely returning the astronauts to Earth.
I imagine that some readers, some future Mannkal scholars, will be debating whether to apply for a Mannkal scholarship. Naturally, I suspect that they, too, wonder what Mannkal is and what its objective is?
Mannkal is “a free-market think tank that sponsors students to go overseas to learn: (a) how markets and trade work; (b) what makes Australia so wealthy; and (c) how we keep it that way” and ensure Australia and Western Australia’s continued prosperity.
It’s sounds structurally similar to NASA’s Apollo Program; in that, NASA sent many missions to space and to the moon to perfect the preparation and execution of the procedures necessary to get to, and to arrive safely from, the moon, and Mannkal sponsors students to intern at think tanks all over the World to learn the ideas and develop the techniques necessary to shape Australia’s continued prosperity.
I went on my scholarship to the IEA in London for 6 weeks. Honestly, I arrived in London with the goal of writing a research paper. On the second night there was the thunderous storm and torrential rain on the eve on the Brexit vote. The following day was the seismic result on the vote, and subsequent days involved historic political upheaval. It was in the following 2 weeks that I figured out that I would not be able to write the research paper. It was, I suspect, the concomitant of these events, the nature of my role as an ops intern and the lack of pre-trip research in a specific topic. The fuller details will be fleshed out as I reflect on this trip in the coming months.
But I have learnt a lot. I have read a lot and seen a lot: seen castles, old pubs, historic sites like Stonehenge, Parliament and Kew Gardens; and read books, Bastiat’s The Law, and others; read papers on government and papers on economic theory. I read my fair share. I learned how future students can better prepare themselves to maximise their experiences. Each trip is part of larger sequence of trips. Each step is another that must be taken to reach a common objective.
While Apollo 13 did not achieve its objective, and while Jim Lovell and Fred Haise did not walk on the moon, their experience paved the way for Apollo 14. On 5 February 1971 Alan Sheppard and Edgar Mitchell, as part of Apollo 14, landed on Fra Mauro.
I invite you, future scholar, to apply for a Mannkal scholarship. Come join the footsteps of many before you who have embarked on this odyssey.