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Twelve men have walked on the moon. Twelve, and only twelve, all American. The first was on July 21, 1969. The last left three and a half years later, on December 14, 1972. Your parents were probably alive. Your parents probably watched. The footprints they left are still there in the dust.
I love science fiction for many reasons. I think it shows humanity at its best, or perhaps I should say its purest-- it shows us our hopes and our dreams and our goals and our striving. It shows what we think of ourselves and what we want for our future. Right now it's a sad, stifled, belittled genre, more worried about being "edgy" and "adult" and "dark" than about trying to define the next dream.
But without Verne and Wells, man would never have stepped on the moon. Without Asimov and Clarke and Sagan, there would have been no Space Shuttle. If a human ever reaches Mars, it will be because science fiction as a genre, as a community, remembers the dream and reminds us all. Five Space Shuttles (Atlantis, docking with the ISS today, Discovery and Endeavor, retired, and Columbia and Challenger, RIP) between them flew 134 missions, and for that miracle humanity owes every SF geek and every cheesy space opera and every Star Trek episode and every issue of Analog more than we will ever be able to repay.
( continued here... )
But somewhere along the line, our excitement about the future ended up focused on the iPhone in our hand instead of the launch at Cape Canaveral.
Last generation, our collective fears and insecurities led us to... well, to a nuclear arsenal that could have extinguished us. But our fears also led us to space. They led us to strive, to be greater, to reach out rather than retrench.
Our insecurity right now has just led us to put metal detectors on every building and pat down air travelers. Our fear of being eclipsed has led to bickering over currency values and dire warnings about manufacturing and helplessness about infrastructure and education and investment. We can't even manage a bullet train. Regular old health insurance nearly broke the political system. All our debate right now is about how to do less -- not how to do more with less, but just how to do less. The most audacious dreams you'll hear voiced in Op-Eds center on maybe possibly changing immigration laws. We wrangle nonstop about the cost of everything without ever talking about its value.
It just makes me sad, a little bit, that our dreams have gotten so very small.
Right now, six men live in space. They have been there since May and will be there for a few months longer. Their names are Satoshi Furukawa, Mike Fossum, Ron Garan, Alexander Samokutyaev, Sergei Volkov, and Andrey Borisenko. They pass over your heads every 91 minutes. Humans have lived in space since before I was born (though not always continuously).
When you point out to the average person on the street that humans are living in space right now, many of them will not believe you. Most of the rest will scrunch their foreheads and say "oh yeah... I think I knew that," or some equivalent.
That this is not a headline every day, that every person who goes on an ISS mission is not a hero when they come home, that people do not stare up in wonder and awe every moment because humans live in space is unfathomable to me.
One day, we will colonize other planets. We can't not. This isn't a wish and it isn't a prediction, it's an obligation.
If there is other life in the universe, we OWE it to them to find them and communicate with them, to learn from them and to reshape our ideas about life around what we find and to make sure they know that they aren't alone either.
If we are the only ones, then we owe it to the universe to spread and multiply and fight entropy and bring life to every corner that will support it.
If we don't do this, we have failed as a species. It's that simple.
We will colonize or we will go extinct. Again, not a prediction, but an inevitability. This planet is so small, so fragile (so terrifyingly, incomprehensibly, small against the backdrop of the galaxy) that it is criminally negligent that we aren't trying to leave it now that we know how.
We must and we will but right now we seem to have forgotten that fact, and ... it terrifies me that we might not remember ...
Originally posted by Xtraeme
reply to post by kro32
I'm always surprised by this attitude. Privatization isn't at odds with a civilian state funded space program. The benefits reaped are entirely different. Private companies have an interest in profit. This causes them to drive down prices and to find better ways to do more with less. Whereas a civilian state funded space program is interested in science and exploration. This is an entirely different agenda. It's in combining these two different goals that we hopefully get a more optimal outcome.
Originally posted by redbarron626
I remember watching the Apollo missions on TV in 1st grade and I was Awed! I remember as a child of 8 or 9 going to the Airport to see the first Space Shuttle being piggy-backed on a 747 and I was inspired. I remember watching one of the rare night launches of the Space Shuttle from a hotel in Cocoa Beach FL as a teenager and I was simply amazed.
Now, a lifetime later, I am sad that I will never get to see the Earth from a fast departing spaceship. I still believe that one day we will reach the stars, it just seems like that day keeps getting further and further away.
Originally posted by Illustronic
Wait a minute, are you saying that the (U.S) government imposes restrictions on private space launching?