End of an Era

I just watched the last shuttle launch.  When she lands, US manned missions in space will also end.  Probably forever.

I was born months before the final Apollo launch.

I vaguely remember the first shuttle launch.  I do remember the first shuttle disaster.  I remember the second shuttle disaster.

In my life we have gone from walking on another solar system body, to no manned missions in space.

The Apollo program motivated a country.  We achieved so much.  An entire generation of kids grew up wanting to be astronauts with the chance of walking on the moon.  It had been predicted by 2001, we’d have colonies in orbit and permanent bases on the moon.

We didn’t.  We turned our back on science and technology.  We abandoned space in order to focus on our planet and it’s problems.

Children forgot to want to be astronauts.  Students forgot there is value in space exploration and some thing, so far, only a person can do, even in space.

My child is reading about going to the moon.  I haven’t the heart to tell him this ended nearly 38 years ago.  He reads about the space shuttle and has several model and toy shuttles.  Now, I’ll have to tell him that the dream is over.  Destroyed.  Mostly because we’re too busy wasting money on wars that have already been lost and those that have already been won.  We’re wasting money on programs that don’t work, because ‘That’s what we’ve always done’.

We’re losing an entire generation of children.  Without STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, we won’t be able to get back to where we were 50 years ago.  We have people in positions of power who deny the science that has been understood for (in some cases) hundreds of years.

We can spend 2 trillion dollars to keep the oil flowing (not the cost of the oil, but cost of the war), but 196 billion (over 30 years) is too much.

If we do not get another manned system moving in the next four years (assuming Obama wins re-election, otherwise, we have less than 15 months), then we probably won’t ever get another manned system and the US will stop being powerhouse and be just another farming community.

Think of what countries like China and Iran (both with space programs, China with a manned program) will do in space… and can do with space travel, when we don’t have space travel.  Think ‘rock’, ‘orbital bombardment’ and ‘blackmail’, then you will start to get the picture.

I hope the US can get back into space.  I really hope that future politicians don’t shut down the civilian programs.

The future is always ahead.  One should never turn around and go backwards.

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