Do you ever wonder what it felt like to live in the 19th century, understand the laws of physics concerning flight, and having to sit idly by while the rest of the world concentrated on how to build the next big tank or battleship? Maybe you even witnessed the Wright Brothers famous flight, and your eyes were wide open about the possibility of all the types of flying apparatuses that could be build. How frustrating would that have been?
I think I have a good idea.
Welcome to the 21st Century. I did see the first human to set foot on the moon. I have always been so excited about the endless frontier of space. When I think back to how excited I was and how sure I was that by the time I was an old man, I would surely be living on another planet. I was sure that war was soon to be a thing of the past and that everyone would focus on the opportunity that lay beyond our atmosphere. Nothing on earth can compare with the growth potential, financial gain, or scientific advancement of outer space. Surely everyone from the greedy capitalists to the dedicated scientist would agree on the fantastic opportunity of space and everyone would join together to explore and capitalize on it. Its been 40+ years. George W. Bush has plunged us back into multiple wars and no one is talking about space anymore. How did that happen? I know we have short attention spans, but give me a break! Nothing we are currently doing on earth can stand up against the adventure and opportunity of space. So why are we still here?
I love a good space story. Even with the limited budget and manpower that scientists around the world are suffering under, we are still making wonderful discoveries. Today they released information about a new solar system with a series of 7 planets. That makes 488 planets that we have discovered with our limited “near earth” observatories. You can see the complete list of Extrasolar planets at the The Extrasolar Planets website. It seems like every time these great scientists release new data on new planets I feel both excited and pissed off. If we had pursued the space program with the same vigor for the past 40 years as we did when we were afraid the Russians would beat us to the moon, we would already have observatories on other planets as well as multiple telescopes on probes that were already beyond our solar system. Instead of 488 Extrasolar planets, we would probably know of 4.8 million Extrasolar planets.
I have anguished over the past 40 years on the funds and energy America has spent in fear of other humans and in the industry of war. What a horrible waste of money. How could we have been so stupid with all of our success. Now in 2010, we are a nation in decline. Our chance to remain in the world leadership role has passed us by because of our own paranoia. Now it is up to China and India to take the lead in space exploration. We no longer have the assets to pursue the dream.
Lets hope they do a better job than we did. I can see it now. The flag of India being pushed into the dust of Mars. The space probe of China to be the first flight of a human outside of our solar system. How glorious will that be? To bad space has seen the last of the Stars and Stripes. When I think about it though, we had our chance. I will be very proud for any country that shows the intelligence and spirit to leap into space after America showed its fear was too great for the adventure.