We landed on Mars. Yay! When I say “we” landed on Mars, I mean an unmanned vehicle operated by mission controllers here on Earth landed on Mars. “We,” as a species, still haven’t gotten there. Still, baby steps! First, a rover, then people, maybe.
When I was a kid, I watched cartoons and movies where far space exploration was not only possible, but it was commonplace. Humans and other species traveled from galaxy to galaxy like Earthlings travel from continent to continent. There were huge star ships, space colonies, alien cultures, robots and massive space battles.
These shows and movies were fanciful fiction created by imaginative adults who laid them before my impressionable young generation for consumption. I knew that we didn’t have space robots, still, I couldn’t help but wish that we did. Space stories planted a seed that is still within me.
When I was born, humans had already landed on the moon. I’ve never known our race without space exploration. I was raised with the belief that humans would keep going into unexplored space. First, the moon, then Mars, Jupiter, etc., then outside the Milky Way to Andromeda and beyond. It just seemed like a natural progression.
I thought we’d be farther along than we are now. It annoys me that we live in an era where space exploration is possible, but it’s not commonplace. The fact that we’re not sending rovers into space every day, but we’re paying billions of dollars to kill each other here on Earth just proves how screwed up our priorities are as a species.
Realistically, we’re pretty advanced when you consider that we only got to the Moon in 1969. Only forty-three years from our first tentative hops to another celestial body to landing an unmanned robot on Mars. That’s a relatively short timeline. Still, I can’t help but be a little disappointed in our progress. Forty-three years of scientists struggling to get funding for space exploration. Forty-three years of budget cuts, layoffs and shutting down the space shuttle program. Forty-three years of the shine on the moon landing wearing off and the fear of another shuttle explosion.
The shine has never worn off for me. The universe is still just as fascinating to me now as it was when I was a kid. I often think about the vastness of the universe, our place in it and how little we know about it. I’ve written about it here, here and here. I’ve never forgotten that sense of wonder. I have never stopped wanting to go farther. And I don’t think I’m the only one.
So, to you, scientists, engineers and dreamers of Earth, I raise my glass (or cup of coffee) and congratulate you for saying screw the politics, wars, and human bullshit, we’re going to work together to continue to push human boundaries, attempt something that’s absolutely insane, and maybe, just maybe try to find some answers because SCIENCE IS FUCKING AWESOME. That’s the spirit!
I only wish that you would progress a little faster so that I can leave this rock just once before I die, ideally aboard my very own giant mecha space robot with laser eyes, space gun and/or battle sword (I would name him Claas), but I’d settle for a space shuttle if necessary. Thanks in advance and keep up the good work!