Tonight, all heinies have been wiped and I wanted to read more about the end of the space shuttle program. I knew that the astronaut program was coming to an end, and that the final launch was scheduled earlier this month. It made me sad, mostly because it essentially takes away a very specific dream. Maybe I am nostalgic because I watched my brother go to space camp in 1986, and subsequently attend the Air Force Academy after high school.
But isn't "astronaut" one of the top three answers for all little kids when you ask them what they want to be when they grow up? My children's generation will not be able to say that. They can certainly still have dreams to be a space engineer or something akin to that, but damn! it's just not quite as exciting when you are dressing up as your dream for Halloween.
We watched a series about the beginning of the space program in the 1950's (somebody help me with the title, can't remember!). It was spectacular. The time, money and sense of adventure necessary to develop a space program in the first place was epic. It was the assertion of USA as a super-power and an extension of what our country believed about themselves. We simply can't understand what it was like for our parents to sit and watch the "moon landing" on television. Unreal, unbelievable and goose-bump inducing. (Unless you think that it was a hoax, of course.) Exploration outside of our home, our planet, is mind-boggling and I think, a necessary dream.
|My parents took this photo while watching the Moon Landing on July 20th, 1969.|
Politics aside, I can understand that if we need the money on earth to handle medical care, housing, peace-keeping, etc., then maybe stepping on the moon again in 2020 isn't the top priority. But I say that with the expectation that this stoppage in the space program is only temporary. It's not fair that this temporary lull will affect this generation, but it is with the hope that we can save the money now and develop better, safer technologies in the future. Let robots figure out the voyage to Mars for a few decades and then give people the chance to look back at the Earth through a window instead of reading about it in a book.
Can you continue reading and consider me a sane person if I say that I still think the government will be conducting space research? Insert conspiracy here... I'm just saying. Go ahead, Washington, do it in secret...just keep doing it in Area 51.
Well-written articles like this give me hope that there is a plan. We still, as a human race, will be able to dream about space exploration. And if we don't think it is an important part of the budget now... we will when we fulfill our Wall-E destiny and cover the Earth with garbage.
For now, we can feel better and join Tina Fey and Buzz Aldrin by screaming at the idiot moon.