Friday, July 8, 2011

To Boldy Go...Eventually

Courtesy of NASA
As I watched the final space shuttle launch this morning, I could not help but be saddened by the thought that the USA will no longer be the dominant space-faring country.

America, winner of the Space Race, will now have to bum a ride on Russian rockets to reach orbit. That just doesn't sit right with me.

I am thankful, however, that NASA will be teaming up with the private sector, especially SpaceX, to reach toward the heavens.

I think what also hurts my heart about the end of the shuttle missions is that it is a setback from the future we see in my favorite sci-fi franchise, Star Trek.*
Spock: It is illogical for the US to end its space shuttle program. Kirk: I know! Think of all the space babes they won't meet!
I love the Star Trek franchise's message of exploration and boldly going where no one has gone before. It is a future that I hope and long for. Although in the present time, we appear to be boldly going nowhere.
Capt. Picard wants more shuttle missions! Make it so!

In the movie Star Trek: Insurrection, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, burdened by the busywork of bureaucracy, laments to Commander Riker, Counselor Troi, and Dr. Crusher, "Can anyone remember when we used to be explorers?"

My fear is that the USA may never regain its hard-fought position as the leader in space exploration. We too may one day ask each other if we remember the days when we used to be explorers.

I have no doubt that one day man will live on the moon and on Mars. We will boldly go... eventually. I hope that I one day have the opportunity to go into space. I don't think I'll ever live on the moon, but it might be a nice place to take a vacation. :)

And a final thought, while all eyes are on Atlantis during this final mission, please remember the men and women who have given their lives in the name of space exploration. May their sacrifices never be forgotten.

*For the record, I don't believe in aliens, like the ones that exist in the Star Trek universe. I simply enjoy the engaging, quality entertainment that Star Trek provides and its depiction of a prosperous future for humanity.

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