Today is the 27th of January.
The next few days, from today through February 1st, tend to be hard ones for me. I could barely remember the loss of Apollo 1.
I witnessed the loss of Challenger.
The loss of Columbia I saw minutes after it happened.
The second of those losses is the one that sticks with me, of course.
When this time of the year rolls around, so early in the year, I become morose. It is really a mixture of feelings, to be honest. Regardless, it reminds me that this is still a very new frontier, one that is harsh and extremely unforgiving. At this point in the quest for space, things are very precarious.
I worry about the fate of space exploration, but not that it won't happen. China has become the latest spacefaring nation to launch human missions. They put not just a lander on the Moon for their first robotic mission to its surface, but a rover. The Russians are still a spacefaring power to be reckoned with, especially in light of recent pronouncements from Moscow reinforcing their own programs. India's space program is starting to pick up, and South Korea successfully launched an orbital mission from their shore. Then there is the European Space Agency, and its goals.
My concern is that the United States is turning its back on space.
I am not referring to the commercial launch industry. I'm referring to NASA.
That was why I was really pleased to read an excerpt from Neil deGrasse Tyson's book "Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier".
While this book is a few years old, it is still as relevant as ever. I've seen Dr. Tyson in person, and have seen him on many programs, and one thing is certain; he is a tireless advocate of spaceflight. Like the late Carl Sagan, he advocates for science education in a very eloquent manner. It is his push for getting us Americans more interested in space that most encourages me. He is a big man, with a big voice.
Which is probably what we need. Space is a big place, and we've only just begun.