death of an era. Like the passing of a time when we yearned for the stars with
a child-like zeal and passion that somehow escapes us now. Maybe because one of
my earliest memories is gathering with my family around a giant, cabinet sized TV
when I was just a four year old girl, watching Neil Armstrong step forward for
all mankind. Maybe because I carried that memory of “eagles landing on the moon”
forward through my childhood, inspiring me (along with many other accomplishments
of the space program, including my own father working on the Saturn V’s
engines) to reach for the stars myself and apply for the astronaut program.
early years of the space program were also the childhood of our country’s love
of science. We, as a nation, were entranced by the things that science could do,
the wondrous possibilities and promises that it held for us. A president
challenged us to go to the Moon, and like children, we believed that we could.
And so we did. This is the great capacity of children – to believe, to try, to
strive without holding back, all because someone we love told us that we could
do anything we set our minds to.
and Columbia. We grieved and we doubted and we pulled back
from the wondrous possibilities of space. When the last Shuttle flight landed,
there was much tribute given to a Space Program that had been neglected in the
media for years. I could barely watch it. I told my mom at the time, that it
felt like a funeral. Something great had died because we couldn’t quite figure
out how to save it. With Neil Armstrong’s passing, I feel we’ve finally been
given the chance to openly mourn what we’ve lost. Which is why I’m crying as I
cynical and afraid. And while we embraced the race forward with computers and iPhones,
we shrank from the larger ambitions that we once yearned for. We have Curiosity, but no ambition. We have long
had the ability to put a rover on Mars, lacking only the will to do it. Because
space exploration isn’t powered by rocket motors or liquid oxygen. It is fueled
by the desire to go there. To explore. To, yes, go where no man has gone before.
Even that has become a relic left
over from my childhood.
Bigelow Aerospace will takes us to the moon again, and beyond. In a way, Space
will become the Wild West that my childhood science fiction novels always
imagined it would be, where our pioneering leaders will be the individuals who stamp
a railroad to the stars, allowing humanity to follow.
national ambition. But I won’t lose hope for the future of space exploration.
Because if there’s one thing I believe in, it’s the power of individuals to
push forward and change the world. We may have grown up, but some of us haven’t
lost that drive, and as long as there are people like Elon Musk and Robert T. Bigelow,
we will be a space-faring people one
day. While Armstrong was critical of the private space program, I understand
why: he wanted to recapture the national ambition to go to space, just as I did.
But Elon is the kind of person that will carry us forward now, inspired by what
pioneers like Armstrong achieved. “Those guys (Armstrong and Cernan) are heroes
of mine,” said