Today the space shuttle Discovery will blast off from Cape Canaveral for the last time in its long and distinguished career. With the shuttle program coming to an end, the blast off of Discovery today will leave just two more flights for American space program. The end of an era is coming; the end of a dream is almost here.
Space shuttle Discovery has carried more people, and orbited the earth more times than any other space vehicle. It has spent and incredible 352 days in orbit, and has circled the earth 5,628 times during it career. Why am I getting so sentimental about a shuttle you say? Because soon America will be out of the space race, we will be left behind in a programmed that was pioneered by Americans, and will be over taken by the Russians, Japanese and Chinese.
While all three of those nations will continue the work in space for all humankind (at least we hope so) it leaves me with a sad feeling knowing that I probably will never see another American walk on the moon, and wave to earth from the dusty dunes of the Luna surface, like my parents had the chance to see back in the 60’s and 70’s.
America has pulled itself out of the space race because of the amount of money it costs to run the program, and I can understand that, especially in these hard times, but what we will be saving in money, we will be losing in children’s imaginations, dreams.
As a child growing up, I wanted to be an astronaut just like any other kid. I dreamed that one day I could fly through the clouds, and float around like my hero’s were doing, it peaked my interest in science and the universe, and I worry now that the youth of tomorrow, my children and your children will not have anything like this to help them dream, and reach for the stars.
Sure it will be talked about in classrooms, videos will be watched, the good and the bad points will be discussed, but that is nothing like being able to see a shuttle launch, or see someone actually walk on the moon on live TV. I fear the next generation’s sense of adventure, their imaginations and pride in what their country is doing for science and humankind, will be gone.
There was a man once who went by the name of John. F Kennedy, and he dreamed of putting man in space, and more importantly, man on the moon. He helped this nation achieve what no other nation had ever done before, and it was his thinking, his desire to be the best that has helped America become the nation that it has today. Where are those dreams now, and where will they come from if we take things like space exploration away from our Children today?
I hope that America reconsiders their choice, and that we as a nation can be as proud as our parents were back in the day, when the first man on the moon was an American. I hope for our children’s sakes that they one day will be blessed with a visionary, like JFK once was.
The last flight of the shuttle fleet is scheduled for this summer, and after that, the end of an era will have come, the end of an American dream will be here.