THE MANNED SPACE PROGRAM, AMERICAS PRIDE - THE SUNDAY COMMENTARY
With that said, while I understand many who see The United States manned space program as an unnecessary eliminate of our government I am saddened at the ending of this major era of our history. An era that saw Americas greatest achievement and gave us heroes who are remembered for the tremendous risk each made for the exploration of space and the advancement of science.
So many of our advancements in science can be directly attributed to the manned space program. Everything from the initial idea that gave us the cell phone to dehydrated foods and many of the advancements in computers and even smoke detectors and cordless power tools. This link provides an excellent source of many of the technologies we take for granted and use daily that came directly from the space program.
Yet for many of my generation the manned space program is much more as we recall those magical and spine tingling moments in which we watched men who became our heroes leave Earths bounds to venture into space with all of its unknowns and dangers.
We remember the heroes who flew the Mercury missions beginning with Alan Shepard. Heroes like John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Gordo Cooper, Scott Carpenter, Wally Shirra and Deke Slayton who braved space alone in the infancy of the space program not knowing what faced them in that great beyond but willing to make the trip for our country and in answer to the call from President Kennedy for America to place a man on the Moon before the decade of the sixties was out, a goal that the fantastic people of NASA reached with the culmination of Americas greatest achievement.
July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong uttered the famous words,"that's one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind," as he descended from the Lunar Module and made the first footprints on the surface of the moon. Many would follow Armstrong in the dangerous undertaking as several additional missions landed on the Moon fulfilling and enhancing this greatest of American accomplishments.
I also remember those who sacrifice the ultimate as the gave their lives in the quest for space. The Astronauts of Apollo I, Gus Grissom, Ed White And Roger Chaffe whose ship caught fire during a test run of the Apollo I capsule. The brave crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger, Dick Scobee, Judy Resnik, Ron McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Greg Jarvis and of course Christa McAuliffe.
The brave souls of Shuttle Columbia, Rick Husband, Bill McCool, Mike Anderson, Dave Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon. Every one of these brave heroes of space considered it their duty and honor to make the dangerous trip into space for the betterment of all mankind and the advancement of The United States space program.
Since that first sub orbital flight by Alan Shepard in May of 1961, The United States has been the leader of the world in space flight and space achievements. With the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis the beginning of the end of the era of American achievement in space and heroes of children of all ages is coming to an end. When Atlantis makes the final glide as it returns to Earth after completing its mission Americas manned space program will be over.
Yes its save money, yes it may or may not continue in the private sector, yes thousands of people involved in the Shuttle program will find themselves without a job. But sometimes ending certain programs that bring pride, achievement and great accomplishment and honor to our Nation is not in the best interest of our Nation.
As a fiscal conservative I have mixed emotions to a point with the ending of our space program. But sometimes ending something that has brought great achievements, advancements in technology unprecedented in just about any program or field and tremendous pride, honor and recognition for our country, the expense becomes worth the cost and should not be cut.
America is identified with space and after Atlantis lands that identification will end. We have led and now we will become $100,000 dollar per person hitchhikers on board Russian vehicles just to continue our participation on the International Space Station. This is a sad epitaph for such heroes as we have know in our manned space program. It is also a sad epitaph for a program that has given our country so much.
Our National quest for space is at an end and even if the private sector does continue on, it will not be The America Flag that will appear on the ships but only commercial ventures and not achievements which promote National pride and unity. The landing of Atlantis will be a sad day for our country and those who have given their all in our manned space program will look down from the heavens with a tear in their eyes as they and we bid farewell to the pride of America.