I believe in the Space Program. When most kids brought a trophy or a beloved souvenir to Show and Tell, when I was young, I brought a different kind of memento – several large glossy photos of our solar system.
I’ll never forget the awe they inspired, especially the iconic “Earth Rising” photo, shot from the moon looking down at our marvelous “blue planet” spinning like a marble in black space. This was before the Internet and iPads, when the Space Program was still in full bloom. My entire class (including my teacher) lost ourselves in the moment, seeing for the first time – Jupiter’s Great Red Spot or the Rings of Saturn.
My father had given me the color photos. He was an aerospace engineer (he worked on the Top Secret MOL satellite program) and the photos were riveting. I understood at that young age that there was something out there, bigger than us… a world beyond our world and this world captivated my imagination and held a promise of mystery and infinite possibilities which stayed with me — forever. This, I believe – I believe in the Space Program.
This was my Show and Tell Keepsake – one that reminded us of our humanity, our imagination. Space exploration is important on a practical level too – our future lies in space.
On a personal level, it’s always served as a touchstone between my father and I. My father also introduced me to Star Trek and a lifelong sci-fi fan was born. Sons and fathers have baseball — daughters and fathers, at least this one, have space exploration. A few years ago a petition went around which I signed to save the Hubble Space Telescope. I forwarded it to my dad and he signed too. We put our names on the digital DVDs that went to Mars. We spoke on the phone during the recent last, sad but also great, Space Shuttle launch. I shared the moment with my daughter, not yet four.
Space exploration shows us the best of who we are — technologically advanced with a beneficent spirit, explorers who want to “boldly go where no human has gone before…” without the space program we become narrow-minded, provincial in our terrestrial mindset. Space exploration is for humanity what art is for the soul — immensely good and somehow nourishing; to give up on it is to give up on ourselves, our future, the future of Earth. I want my daughter to grow up in a world that still has some non-cynical life to it, to have a future filled with wonder and hope.
I hope NASA starts manned missions to Mars and continues with un-manned missions too. I believe we will perish without the Space Program. Maybe it will be a slow decay but the most important part of ourselves — gazing into the stars, wondering, dreaming and — discovering — will slowly fade away. I believe the Space Program is our future. I believe in inspiring hope and discovery… as well as father-daughter bonds.
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