NASA and the death of a dream

My dad and I have never had much in common but the one thing that we have always shared has been an interest in science.  From the weather to string theory and everything in between he taught me to be fascinated in the world around me.  For all of the drama that my childhood held there was still a fostering of this common interest as I often received chemistry sets, telescopes, books on natural disasters, star maps, and trips to museums and national parks.

Like many kids I ate up stories of astronauts and space.  I loved the movie Space Camp (who didn’t) and The Last Star Fighter.  To this day one of my favorite school projects was in 6th grade when I created my model and report on Apollo 11.  I never wanted to be an astronaut or anything like that but I have always held in high regard NASA and the discovery and hubris of manned space flights.

My last year of college I created a list of 160 things that I wanted to experience before I died. The list continues to grow but one thing that was on there was to watch the  launch of a Space Shuttle with my dad and kids.  Well, considering that the last shuttle mission is scheduled to launch in September of this year, that dream is falling away.  Although I might be able to convince my wife and daughter to drive to Florida the odds of getting my dad to fly to Florida is slim to none.  What makes this even more sad to me is that really there are no other manned missions in the pipeline for a very very very long time. (unless the change their minds)

It might seem silly or geeky and, you know, that’s ok I can take it.  However, there is more to it then just not getting to accomplish this goal the way I had always wished. It’s also like loosing something that has made this country great.  I am by no means a flag waving die-hard patriot but I appreciate the ingenuity that God has given us.  This pushing the limits attitude of discovery and invention that has marked our country seems to be fading away.  Sure we have the internet (which really wasn’t created here but at CERN), Apple (God bless you) and hopefully medical and ecological breakthroughs but that’s about it.

Think about it.  First to put a man on the moon.  Invention of the car.  The creation of the highway system.  First to embrace sky scrapers and make them grand practical spaces.  Numerous medical breakthroughs. Building a railroad across the entire country. First to fly around the world. Disneyland…And the list goes on.

I guess I’m just bummed that one of the things I grew up admiring about this country, doing the impossible, will not exist in the same way for my kids and grandkids.

OK, I guess I’m done.  I think I’ll go to the zoo today and maybe watch Apollo 13 and Indiana Jones later…and maybe call my dad and see if I can talk him into to flying to Florida in September.

Until net time…

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2 thoughts on “NASA and the death of a dream

  1. I agree with you as much as is possible. I LOVE space and all that it encompasses. It’s probably one of my earliest fascinations and it was fostered largely by my Grandfather and Mother. Stars, telescopes, the moon, Sagan, Hawking, space shuttles, apollo missions, gravity, planets, black holes, nebulas, comets (my grandfather and I went to Palm Springs in the late 80’s to catch a glimpse of Halley’s comet)… Space was something we could ALWAYS talk about and did.

    Dude I just found out about this: http://www.imax.com/hubble/

    MUST go see it, I only wish my grandfather could’ve seen this, I know he would’ve enjoyed it.

  2. Dear Topher Lyttle,
    I agree with you. Whenever my husband would give talks about his Space Shuttle missions, he would bring out the dreams in all the people in the audience. When I worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, I was really impressed with the sense of common mission that everyone had. As a country, we do seem to have lost our optimism and sense of wonder and spend much more time criticizing the space program than embracing it.
    NASA is designing a new space vehicle. So maybe, you’ll get a chance to see it launch into space at some future time.
    All best,
    Sue Barry

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