I'm having a hard morning. I'm excited, proud, angry and sad all at the same time. Today was a triumph for America, but the country was also diminished in a very public way. Today was historic. Today was the last Space Shuttle flight, STS-135. Atlantis is now safely in orbit set to rendezvous with the International Space Station on Sunday. I'm very proud of and thankful for all the astronauts, crew, contractors and anyone else that made the STS program a reality. You did a great job!
When Atlantis lands and is prepped for the museum The United States of America will have no ability to send a person into space. Think about that when your kids pose this question to you. Hey Mom/Dad when you were a kid did a man walk on the moon or was there really a Woman in space? After your answer the next question will be, How come we don't/can't do that now? You'll be forced to say, well Russia and China still can, but not the US. How are you going to feel about that? Are you going to explain that the US government has no business in space exploration? That space is the domain of the private sector? That there are a few companies now that own the only means of space travel?
When NASA goes to space, we all go to space. Every single American Citizen, not Lockheed Martin or Boeing or Rocketdyne or even just the Astronauts, All of us. Every inch of space NASA travels into we're right there along for the ride. You can call NASA a matter of national pride, or even a charitable organization or our gift to the world if you want to, I don't care, but it needs to be there. The progress of civilization and the future of mankind need it to be. Americans need it to be, especially now. The space program was always the one thing that no matter what kind of shape the country was in, or what your ideas of greatness are, you could take pride in as an American. We put a man on the moon, we have a reusable space vehicle, we discovered other galaxies. Now it's, we used to be able to do that stuff. Maybe it's my age and remnants of of the cold war mindset I grew up in, but I don't like that feeling.
You can dog NASA and its government funding all you want, but the simple fact is without NASA there would be no private sector space exploration. NASA's astronomical budget (pun intended) is a result of those same private sector contractors you're cheering for. I'm not saying there shouldn't be private sector space exploration. I'm all for it, but NASA needs to be in front of, or right there with them. There is hope, and a bit of a future. NASA has joined up with SpaceX A private company that's hell bent on space exploration and getting to Mars. They are currenly testing a manned space capsule that has sucessfully re-entered Earth's atmosphere. BTW without NASA's help they would still be sitting on the launch pad. The CEO is claiming Mars in 2020. I hope I'm here to see it even though it won't be the same. We'll have to see what happens. Sticking with the Ameican theme all I can say is, Ok Private Sector. You're up, let's see what you got kid.