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Shuttle symbolism

America’s last shuttle launch, July 8, 2011

I didn’t post anything Tuesday as I watched reports of the space shuttle Discovery being flown to and landing in Washington, D.C. I was too deeply saddened. Partly because all those people on the East Coast were getting to see it while once again the center of the country was left out. But mostly because it marked the end of an era, an era that began in 1957 with the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik. There is more symbolism than I care to contemplate in the shelving of our space shuttles at the same time our government has reached a low point in its ability to function and in the respect of the American people. Where once we reached for the stars and no challenge was too great, we now sit flightless, locked in an internecine struggle for dominance in a system already broken. I grieve for the nation I once knew.

11 Comments »

  1. I couldn’t agree more with the sentiments you’ve expressed here PT. As awe inspiring as all the photos and videos are, they also inspire in me a sadness too deep to describe… 😕

  2. We had such grand aspirations – the end of racism, the end of all inequalities, justice for all – and that’s all mostly gone with the cynicism that the current situation brings us to… it seems that most of what we got out of the space program was commercialized products that were used by giant corporations to become even richer….

    • We benefited immensely from the products and technologies brought to us by the space program. And I don’t think the aspirations for the program included the things you mention. What we have lost is the sense of unity and pride in what we could accomplish, the sense of awe and wonder brought by exploring something beyond Earth, a magnificent perspective on mankind and our planet and the relative pettiness of our differences, and the inspiration to all of us, especially the children, to dream and strive and pursue and literally to reach for the stars. The government said NASA and the space program were too expensive. I say they were priceless.

"Nothing is more dangerous than ignorance and intolerance armed with power." ~ Voltaire

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