Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#094 In which our hero dreams of space.

Several years ago I worked at a newspaper. At this newspaper, management held a yearly event in which they brought in speakers, held workshops and had a big, fancy dinner at the end of it all. This was meant to be motivating, of course. Since it was nominally a sales job, and I loathe sales, I saw it as an opportunity to get off the phone for a couple hours more than the chance to hone my sales skills. But I digress.

One year our featured speaker was Nancy Currie, a space shuttle astronaut. I was interested in her speech because it wasn't the typical fare of tips and hints to sell better, faster, stronger! but rather the details of what it felt like to go into space.

Man, I want to go into space.

When I started to write this, the shuttle countdown was still on. Two and a half years since the space shuttle Columbia blazed death across the sky, we were getting back on the horse. We were about to show mother Earth that we were no slave to her gravity, that we would damn well come and go as we pleased.

Of course, the countdown has been called off since then. A malfunctioning fuel gauge scrubbed the mission.

I started writing intending to express just how important this launch is... by successfully putting that craft back into orbit NASA would prove that the dozens of previous launches weren't flukes, that rather the shuttle is sound, and that the two most recent American space disasters (Challenger and Columbia) were the exception, not the rule.

You see, here's the thing: we need to go into space. Other than the deepest Atlantic rifts, humans have conquered this planet. Sure, sure, the planets bites back every now and again with hurricanes and earthquakes and new virus strains... but still, we're calling the shots. So we need something else to conquer, something else to inspire us to great things. And lacking this challenge, you end up with things like the Iraqi war.

Speaking of which, our current douche-bag of a president vomited out some powerful sound-bites about going to Mars, but that's clearly bullshit to distract the masses from the atrocities being carried out by this administration, home and abroad. When JFK declared that America was going to place a man on the moon, "...not because it is easy, but because it is hard," the country damn-well did just that in less than 10 years. I'll fall over dead if America puts another man on the moon by 2015, let alone Mars.

Anyway... I can't really blame NASA for being cautious. More than just the lives of this crew are on the line, the very future of the space program is. If Discovery blows up either on its way out or way in to the atmosphere, that's it. There would be a huge outcry. Manned space exploration would be abandoned. Humans would become the permanent prisoners of the Earth. I have no doubt.

So, if Discovery doesn't go, if NASA and the administration and ultimately, America, chickens out and doesn't get back into the space game, then we never will.

No moon base. No intergalactic travel. No flying cars.

I'm hoping that the mission gets back on track soon. I'm hoping that all goes well. I'm hoping that everyone involved is willing to take the chance.

And I'm hoping that in 20 years, my kids aren't lamenting how they never got their flying cars.


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