Tuesday, May 29, 2012

To Mars!

In a world with precious little good news, I'm celebrating last week's successful launch of the first commercial space vehicle, and the delivery of the Dragon supply capsule to the International Space Station. As a child of the Sputnik era, I've been dismayed by the decline of U.S. space program. Now it seems that private industry may be stepping in to keep humanity's eyes on the stars.

I don't know about you, but I'm thrilled. Finally we're moving forward, when we've been stalled for so very long.

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, has indicated that the ultimate goal is a mission to Mars. I applaud his vision. I grew up reading science fiction, watching Star Trek and dreaming about space travel - I'm wondering what has taken us so long.

Space travel has been one of my lifetime goals. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was in primary school. When I discovered that you had to be a perfect physical specimen to qualify, I was crushed. My extreme myopia and flat feet pretty much disqualified me. Today there are a handful of wealthy people who can afford to buy a brief trip into space - space tourists - but I'm not one of them.

So have I given up on my dream? Not necessarily. Who knows how long I'll live and what wonders I'll see during that time. Even if I don't make it, I'm pleased to see the likelihood increase that today's kids will get a chance to venture into the solar system and maybe even beyond.

I hope they feel the same sense of wonder I do, seeing the Dragon flying against the backdrop of a cloudy earth. Though I may well not be around to see it, I hope that at least some of them make it to Mars.

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