Posted by: Calmseas (Mike) | June 8, 2012

The Future Is Here!

I thought I was living back in the 1960s last week.  I was blindsided by the SpaceX mission to the International Space Station.  The “Dragon” spacecraft, riding into space atop the powerful “Falcon” rocket, was a wonder to behold.  I had no idea that this mission was imminent.  I wasn’t even aware that it was something in the planning stages.  Where have I been?

Back in the day, I would have been all over this mission, engrossed in every detail.  I can remember being glued to the television during the Gemini missions of the mid-1960s.  I would come home from school and immediately plunk myself down in front of the TV, remaining there for hours on end.  Broadcast coverage was continual back then.  In fact, continual coverage of the Dragon mission was available on the internet via NASA TV, CNN, and other outlets.  Perhaps the start-to-finish coverage is one of the things that gave me such a sense of deja vous about this mission.  When the robotic arm reached out and snatched the Dragon capsule from its free float in space, I cheered like I was cheering for Ed White as he became the first American to “walk in space” forty-seven years ago this month.

The Dragon mission, I believe, has given us a window on the future.  Space travel going forward will become a private effort.  Private companies, such as SpaceX, will find ways to make money in space and competition will gear up.  Costs will come down dramatically, and that is a very good thing.  With reduced costs, there will come more and more activity in space.  The US government will spend much less and gain much more as it looks to private enterprise to provide its access to space for scientific and for military purposes.

But perhaps the most exciting news for today’s youth is the prospect of affordable space tourism.  In 1965, I was an eight-year-old boy, sitting breathless in front of the TV, stunned at the sight of astronaut Ed White dangling in space from a tether attached to his Gemini 4 spacecraft.  I could only dream of maybe becoming a NASA astronaut some day—and a pipe-dream it surely was.  An eight-year-old today, however, can have a very realistic dream of one day going into space for a quick tour around the earth from hundreds of miles above it.  I have an eight-year-old granddaughter today.  It is not beyond the realm of possibility that in her lifetime she may have the opportunity to book a vacation to the moon!

If you want to see the future of space, all you have to do is look upward now, through the clouds and beyond.  The sky is no longer the limit!

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