Space, the Final Frontier

These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise.

Its continuing mission:

To explore strange new worlds,

to seek out new life; new civilizations,

to boldly go where no man has gone before.

 Most everyone these days is familiar with the opening lines of the sci-fi television show Star Trek. The importance of space exploration has long been in the forefront of our minds. We have a natural curiosity as humans to know what’s beyond our own planet and to discover if there are, in fact, other life forms with which we can communicate and learn from in a meaningful way.

On 25 February 2011, NASA’s Space Shuttle Discovery was launched for its final voyage into space. Granted, we’ve not gone back to the moon again, or even beyond, but each time we send one of these massive shuttles into orbit miles above us, humanity steps forward in a big way. I will not and could not ever deny that these space shuttle missions have benefitted life here on Earth in some extra-ordinary ways.

Yesterday I managed to find a pretty awesome video of Discovery’s launch. It is from a unique perspective; one that very few people have the privilege of witnessing. A commercial airline leaving Orlando International Airport bound for Richmond, VA was late in departing, but that lateness was quickly forgotten (and probably forgiven) when some of the passengers were treated to a spectacular and rare view of the space shuttle’s launch. If you haven’t seen it, click play on the video below.

I discovered the video originally in a story on Yahoo News which had an accompanying story of explanation. As is the case with most of Yahoo’s stories, there were comments at the bottom. I was very surprised by the number of commenters lamenting the fact that our shuttle program is coming to an end. I think the government space program should be scrapped altogether. Why should the government have to fund all space exploration? I think we’d go a lot farther a lot faster if we privatize space exploration. We’d no longer be restricted by a budget, but only be limited by our imaginations.

It makes perfect sense to end the shuttle program and let everything move to the private sector. Why does the government need to control everything? They can pay private companies who are in the business of launching rockets and their own shuttles into space on an as needed basis to toss up a few more spy satellites.