NASA, the most balls-trippingly awesome government administration there is, decided to end the manned space shuttle program a while back. This news hit me like an asteroid hitting a planet. It hurt. A lot. But then we landed on Mars, and I was excited. Woo! Mars! It soothed my pain a bit. And I keep hearing about all of these exciting new space missions we have planned like landing on an asteroid for the first time in history. Space! Asteroids! Woo!
This morning, on The NPR, they were talking about new space missions we have planned, and while I find all of this very exciting, I can’t help but feel a little stab in the heart every time I hear a news story about NASA. Why should news of NASA hurt my heart so much? Just the simple fact that there still is news from NASA is amazing.
Then, they interviewed the last man on the moon. From The NPR:
On Dec. 7, 1972, NASA launched its final human mission to the moon. Forty years later, Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan says he’d love to give up his claim to fame as “the last man on the moon.”
“I’d like to be able to shake the hand of that young man or young woman who replaces me in that category,” Cernan told NPR. “But unfortunately, the way things have gone and the way things are looking for the future, at least the near-term future, that won’t happen in my lifetime. And that truly is disappointing.”
That’s it! That’s exactly why I feel a stab in my heart. It hurts me just as it hurts Cernan, only he put words to it and that lucky bastard has actually been to the moon.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. As soon as I realized that the night sky wasn’t a matte backdrop with little lights, but was actually older and vaster than anything my tiny mind could ever fully comprehend, I wanted to go out there. I didn’t care that we hadn’t ever gotten father than the moon. I didn’t care what it took, I was going to do it, dammit. Even if it killed me, I was going to get to space.
Then I realized that my partial deafness and my poor vision would keep me from ever being a proper astronaut. I was heartbroken, but I still had hope. Maybe, when I grow up, NASA will have perfected space travel so much that you’ll be able to buy a ticket to the moon the same way you would buy a ticket to Fort Lauderdale. Space travel will be so passé that it won’t even be a big deal by the time I grow up.
Well, it didn’t quite work out that way, did it? I still don’t have a ticket to the moon, and now, it looks like I will never be able to get one. But what hurts my heart even more is that NASA has stolen my dream from me. It has stolen the dream of countless children to be one of the chosen few. Now, when you ask elementary school kids what they want to be when they grow up, astronaut can no longer be an answer. That sucks. That hurts me just like it hurts Gene Cernan. It saddens me that a generation of children will grow up without wanting to be astronauts. They will have no role models because the job no longer exists.
I still want to be an astronaut. I am not giving up on my dream. There are private companies out there now that are working on space tourism. SpaceX, the company out of Hawthorne, CA that has the new space shuttle contract, and The Golden Spike are going to offer two seats aboard a commercial space shuttle for $750 million each. My childhood dream of being an astronaut can still be fulfilled. I only need to become a billionaire first. I’ll gladly take donations.
I kid, but really, it infuriates me. It’s like saying to little Jimmy who wants to be a football star when he grows up or little Susie who wants to be President that they’ll need a billion dollars of their own money first. The dream of astronautdom has been snatched from even the poorest kids in the world and handed only to the wealthiest. That is the kind of unfairness that makes me rage.
Dreams shouldn’t have a cash value. Dreams shouldn’t only be attainable for the rich. Bring back the dream, NASA.