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Mike’s Musings: Despite naysayers, space exploration important to US

We have a weekly column in one of our Michigan newspapers called Faces in the Crowd. Random bystanders are asked a question each week and we publish their answers. This week the question had to do with sending man back to the moon, and beyond, to Mars.
I was taken aback by the answers. Most if not all the respondents said they thought manned space flights were a waste of money and served no purpose. I have a contrary opinion.
Although I too am a fiscal conservative, I applaud NASA for turning over the reigns to entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Musk and his company Space X is the future of space exploration and we should be avid cheerleaders for every spacecraft he sends in to orbit.
Why? Because the cost to send spacecraft and astronauts into space has declined immensely since many of the functions have been privatized. Taxpayer dollars do not go to Space X. Musk foots the bill. He hopes to get his money back by establishing Starlink in every corner of the world. Starlink is his hi-speed internet that utilizes satellite technology.
But beyond that the quest to put astronauts on the moon and beyond is a noble objective in my opinion. There are many reasons why space exploration is important but most of all I believe it is a source of pride that we in the United States can point to with exhilaration.
At a time when we are falling behind in education and manufacturing, the U.S. has been and will be the unequivocal leader in space exploration. With Musk at the helm I have confidence will continue to be that leader, and Americans, through all the problems we have had to endure lately, will be able to point to the skies and say “We did it.”
Way back in 1962, President John F. Kennedy challenged Americans when he said:
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
He went on to say, “For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon, and to the planets beyond. And we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.”
Space exploration, however, has other benefits. We might find rare minerals on the moon, or Mars, or beyond. We might be able to sustain life on Mars and that might be of value if life becomes too untenable for some here on earth. Who knows what the future might bring, but if we have an alternative living situation it could save the human race.
It amazes me that a half century ago we placed me on the moon and haven’t been back since. As a space program we chose to concentrate on other things like the space station, but none of those things make Americans proud like the moon landing.
I’m so happy that Musk, with the assistance of NASA is redirecting its mission, and will be headed to the moon next year. And from there, they have set their sites on Mars. And for all those naysayers that think it is nonsense to explore space, I give you a thumbs down.

One Reply to “Mike’s Musings: Despite naysayers, space exploration important to US

  1. This is a great piece, humans have always explored but we do need to explain to the tax payer what their money is being spent on – years ago it was on great sailing ships that connected the world and brought commerce (and additional challenges!) to people around the world. At the time no one could have used “tea” as a reason since people in Europe had never seen tea, but it would go on to become a business for many people.

    Developing rockets has enabled us to have geosynchronous weather satellites, to have satellites that allow lost aircraft to call for rescue, and easy navigation when you are driving your car around. These rockets sometimes launch people into space and sometimes launch satellites, still the technology developed to get people into space is shared to allow satellites to get into space.

    Going to the Moon or Mars allows millions of people to see that the Earth is a unique and very valuable planet and gives us enormous information about the history of our planet – which helps us guess at it’ future. It allows millions to realize that the Earth is a small, vulnerable place that we must protect.

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