Friday, July 8, 2011

The End of an Era

I've never been all that fascinated with the idea of space travel. It just grabs the imagination of some and not others and I am one of the others.  I was only about 15 months old when Armstrong took that small step for man, so it was already history by the time I was aware of my surroundings.  I do remember being called to watch a slashdown.. Apollo 13 maybe? I remember my dad was super excited about and I was mildly annoyed with him.

I also remember being summoned from my room to watch the first shuttle land in California. I was 14 by then and was daily mildly annoyed with my father, so this probably produced a serious huff. (And probably some eye-rolling because he pulled me away from the phone or a book.)

The Challenger was my first experience with adult disaster and the thoughts of it can still bring a sick feeling to my stomach and a lump in my throat.

But space never grabbed my imagination.

Today though with the last shuttle launch complete, I'm sad. Not because I never made it to the moon or the space station or orbited Earth (I'd rather go to to Ireland), but because it feels like one more area in which the U.S. is no longer a leader. Space was ours. The moon was ours. And now it's not. Now we are dependent on other nations to get supplies to the space station.  Those four who blasted off a couple of hours ago will be dependent on Russia if the shuttle becomes inoperable.

And that makes me sad.


Mr. Charleston said...

Don't worry Lady. The next generation of space vehicles will blow your socks off. I heard a NASA official describe the current situation as, "NASA began as a Mission with a Goal. Now it's a Mission searching for a Goal." Sounds about like everything else to me. However, since you are not a space lady you probably haven't seen or read about the new space vehicles being designed and constructed. Within the decade you will be able to take a ride into space as a tourist on a commercial vehicle.

Mauigirl said...

I share your sadness at this. But I was never a fan of the shuttle to begin with b/c it just didn't seem to have anywhere to go. Unlike you, I dreamt of someday going to another planet or solar system! If not me personally, I hoped to at least see it in my lifetime. And now it doesn't seem likely, and certainly not by Americans, as you point out. While it may be true that a commercial enterprise may get into the space business, it's going to be a long time before anyone really starts exploring other worlds...and I probably won't be here for it.

LeftLeaningLady said...

Valid, Mr. Charleston, but pay to ride makes me uneasy.

Mauigirl, you nailed it.