Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Alpha and Omega of an Era

Yesterday was the 42nd anniversary of the first Moon landing, today - with the landing of the Shuttle Atlantis ended the 30 year Space Shuttle program and the the discontinuation of American Manned Space flight by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for the foreseeable future which for all intents and purposes may be a very, very long time.

Humans in general and Americans to be more specific need goals and challenges it's just how we're wired as a people, as a nation and as a species.  It fuels our imagination, our economy and ultimately paves our future.  The Space program while boring and irrelevant to some has undeniably been responsible for the cultivating of new minds which conjured new ideas that ultimately created new technology and understanding for us all.

As a Nation we will never achieve the world leading future within our grasp squabbling over the pennies of today.  I believe this is a lesson that many other Countries have learned but we seem to have forgotten.  If not now when? If not us who?  I believe these questions will be answered by others if we do not change course.

Our children no longer desire to become Astronauts, Teachers and Marine Biologists exploring the vastness of Space, the infinite of the mind or the unknown wonders of our Oceans.  Instead they want to sing and dance and jump and run - because these endeavors come with obscene wealth and celebrity.  

I submit that these pursuits may feed the individual's desire to achieve and prosper, but collectively as a society we are all starved - not only intellectually but also of the values that rise above the superficial when wealth and celebrity is disproportionately rewarded to someone for being able to bounce a ball, sing a tune or dance a step instead of feeding a mind, reaching out into the emptiness of Space and conquering it or discovering new life and new civilizations on our own planet, long forgotten or those we have yet to discover.

The plan is for the Space program to be handed off [in part] to private industry where it can become cheaper, easier even safer through competition.  Having witnessed the machinations of private industry in the deeds and misdeeds of Enron, Blackwater and BP I have great trepidation for the next 42 years of the Space Program.  It may sound far fetched now but I don't want August 21st 2053 to arrive and realize that the once majestic NASA has been diversified into some variant of a Private Industry Space and Warfare Administration.

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