O, he sits high in all the people's hearts; And that which would appear offence in us, His countenance, like richest alchemy, Will change to virtue and to worthiness.
- Shakespeare, English Dramatist and Poet (1564-1616)
With the Space Shuttle Atlantis touching down today, the 135th and final mission marks the end of the era of America’s Space Shuttle Orbiters. The accomplishments were great, the deployment and subsequent repair of the Hubble Space Telescope, which provided views of the universe unimaginable from Earth’s atmosphere, the building of the International Space Station, the greatest cooperative effort in space history, but the payloads were borne almost entirely by the Space Shuttles, and 180 other satellites and payloads brought into orbit by the shuttles.
The costs were great as well – $209 billion dollars from development to retirement, and of course, the tragic loss of fourteen astronauts in the Challenger and Columbia disasters.
So sad to see thousands of workers at NASA are headed for the unemployment line with the end of the mission. By the White House’s own numbers, the $666 billion in stimulus money spent so far has created or saved jobs to the tune of $278,000 per job, but we couldn’t find enough pocket change to keep America in space and keep the workers at NASA busy and employed.
A conversation I had with a friend on Facebook a few months back . . .
J.G. — Are you pro space exploration?
M.C. — Yeah, and was very sad to see out of 3/4 trillion in “stimulus” spending, this administration couldn’t spare a dime for NASA.
J.G. — I love nasa, but there is a time to spend and a time to save. You would have critisized him for spending money on nasa if he had!
M.C. — Not true. I was sitting there thinking these exact thoughts, “All this money to throw around on pork spending projects and not a dime for NASA.” You know the term, Bucket List, the stuff you vow to do before you kick the bucket, well I have one thing on there I have absolutely no control over, but I want to see man walk on Mars before I die. That’s become more and more remote now thanks to Obama’s priorities. And you know why I think he had money for everything under the sun, but not NASA? Because NASA gives us something that WE can be proud of as AMERICANS. He would rather share those accomplishments with the global community. We’re shutting down the Space Shuttle, have no plans for any American achievements and now if we want to get out into space, we have to hitch a ride with the Euros or the Commies.
J.G. — Its Obama’s fault that “you think” man wont walk on mars before you die……now ive heard everything. I dont even know what to say to that. I would imagine that if it was that big of a deal to you, that the fact that a human bieng did infact set foot on the red planet, we as HUMANS would celebrate as one. Not because it was an american…unless ofcourse its just never going to be as impressive otherwise.
M.C. — I would wish it would be an American, hell yes, just the same as you take special pride in seeing your own family do great things, yes, I would much rather it be an American.
Nothing wrong with being a nationalist and rooting for your home country to do great things. Taking pride in the achievements of humanity is all fine and great, but after my own immediate family, I feel very much connected to what I consider my extended family – the American Family. Just the same as you take special pride in the accomplishments of your father, your mother, your brothers, your sisters, I also take much more pride in the accomplishments of Americans than I ever would in the doings of people from any other corner of the globe.
Over 42 years later, no nation on Earth has managed to duplicate the American accomplishment of stepping foot on the moon, and I damn sure am rooting for that first footstep on Mars to be an American footstep.