I’m not sure how I missed the news that our president has scrapped all future manned space flights, but when I read it last night, I felt a deep sense of shame and loss.
The space program has never been about making money. It’s never been about what we could get from it. It has always been purely about hope. Having the greatest space program on this planet meant that we were a nation who looked to the future, who dared its children to dream, who strived for something more than a fancy car and a two story house and a pension. It was something all Americans could look to and say with pride, “We did that.”
By consigning our manned space program to the trash heap, our president is telling us to look earthward. And we all should. We should be making sure our houses are in order. But he’s also telling us that our dreams, the things beyond our own limited vision, aren’t worth anything. It’s like a parent who throws away his child’s paint set because his future lies in more concrete endeavors.
Yes, I know we’ll still send probes into the galaxy to take photos and send them home, but that’s not good enough. That’s like showing a kid a book with a bunch of paintings but telling him he can’t go to the museum and see them himself.
I know that our nation is hurting. I know that there are people who have no homes and no food and no health insurance. And that it probably makes me sound snobbish and cruel to say that all that money we put into manned space travel shouldn’t go to those people. But a nation that doesn’t dream, a nation that doesn’t dare to test every boundary, a nation that doesn’t innovate, is a nation that is doomed to fail.
By scrapping our manned space program, our government has surely anchored us all. This is a giant leap backward.