Ad Astra Per Aspera

I’m nervous about what might happen to the Space Program. My fear is that we’ll pull back–chastened by the disaster, attention drawn elsewhere by security issues, growing financially conservative due to the economy….and maybe even assigning blame to NASA for missing warning signs. This could be it. Figure out a way to get the International Space Station crew home, put the chairs on the tables, and turn out the lights.

That’s my fear.

I’ve always dreamed of space travel, since I was a child. Dreams of a career as an astronaut were scuttled fairly early on by a lack of interest in math, and a realization that there wasn’t room in a cockpit for a tall guy. However, I never lost the attachment to the dream. As a people, though, we seemed to stop looking outward…we stopped caring about what’s out there. We seemed to lose our spirit of exploration.

That’s what I want back. That’s what I wanted to hear from Bush yesterday. Hearing him say that the work will continue was heartening…but I want more. I want to hear “this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” Or Mars. Or anything.

We need the President to kick Congress in the ass, shake the money tree, and re-fire our spirit of exploration. Tap into that fire that drew us all together after 9/11. If we’re going to try to lead the world (and our foreign policy seems to speak to a certain desire for Hegemony), then let’s lead it for the best reasons, as well as for the worst. Let’s show the world that we can answer the brutality of backwards-looking fanaticism not just with reciprocal violence, but also by rising above it to further the advances of all of humanity–because we can.

We’re the only ones who can, and it’s time not only for us to remember that, but time for us to remind everyone else as well.

GMS

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