Friday, June 22, 2007

Interest in the Space Program

Where does the myth come from that Americans don't care or aren't interested in the space program? I recently went down to the Kennedy Space Center to view the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on June 8th. The launch was scheduled for 7:38 and I got to the center in the early morning. The visitor complex was crowded and the gift shop overflowing with people buying space memorabilia who just couldn't seem to get enough of it. The lines to view the space-themed IMAX films were very long and visitors lined up in the hot sun to get a chance to see them. Around 4pm we left the main visitor complex and made the short bus trip into the complex to watch the launch from the NASA causeway. NASA only allows 3000-5000 visitors on the causeway to view a launch. The grassy area was lined with people from all parts of the country and from all walks of life. All were amazed and excited at the launch and mesmerized that they got to see what the majority of Americans will never get to see - the launch of a manned spacecraft. It reminded me of film I had seen of the Apollo 11 launch. People lined everywhere along the space coast to see a part of history. America's space program is a source for American pride, we have landed on the moon and it will still take other countries another twelve years to do what we did 38 years ago. Politicians are the ones who seem out of touch with the pulse of the people. I'm no fan of Senator Barbara Milkuski (D-MD), but she is one of the few who has consistently gone to bat to get more money for NASA. President George Bush and his father are and were supporters of the space program. President Bush directed NASA to take the next steps in space exploration with the Moon, Mars and Beyond initiative. The naysayers argue we have better things to do with our money - my response is yes we have better things to do with the incredible amounts of money we waste on trivial or pork barrel projects, but funding and supporting the manned and unmanned exploration of space should be a top priority. With an election looming it is important in the midst of all of the other issues to understand whether or not the candidates will continue to support the space program those that don't or seek to diminish it's role and vision are not in sync with the will of the people.

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