A Piece of Exceptionalism Lost
It may be hard to have an appreciation for what the Shuttle Program has meant to America and the world. By the 1980’s, the freedom that bestowed the United States’ celestial shores was driving the final nail in the coffin of the Soviet Union. The generations that have grown up since that era have only known the prosperity of this sweet and blessed land, but the generations that preceded grew up in a world far different. Before the 80’s, the Earth’s two superpowers, with terrible and incredible weapons pointed at each other that in a matter of minutes could have destroyed the heart and soul of the other were in a race. The winner would control the freedom of man – the United States as a beacon of light to the world and its defense of freedom or the Soviet Union and its darkness of tyrannical oppression.
There may not be a true appreciation for the shuttle program, but one needs to look no further than the names of the Space Shuttles to understand their significance and drive in the American psyche:
Atlantis – The inhabitants of the mythical island of Atlantis were said to be the most technologically sophisticated of all ancient civilizations. The double mast and steel hulled ship Atlantis, of the early 20th century, was the last of its kind in ocean research.
Columbia – Inspired by the explorer Christopher Columbus. In 1790, the Columbia, a privately owned ship, was America’s first vessel to circumnavigate the world. The torch bearing Columbia is also the female personification of America, bringing her beacon of light to an oppressed world.
Challenger – Something that pushes the boundaries. In the 19th Century, the HMS Challenger made numerous substantial scientific findings in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Discovery – Observing or finding something unknown. Henry Hudson and James Cook, two of Europe’s greatest explorers and watershed men, both sailed in ships named Discovery.
Endeavour – Work toward a set goal. Aboard the sailing vessel Endeavor, James Cook made the first voyage without losing a man to scurvy, a disease brought about by a lack of ascorbic acid in the body.
Enterprise – Inclination to accept new, unknown quests accepting all opportunity, complication and risk.
Everything about each of these names is purely American. The space program has been one of the nation’s greatest symbols of pride. Before kids had to watch condoms being put on cucumbers during class time, teachers used to wheel in TV’s so everyone could watch, first the rockets then the shuttles launch. The innovation of the space program propelled not only rockets but also the American Economy and built a bustling private sector aided by the loyal readiness of suburbia.
Military superiority to keep the world safe was not the only product of America’s space program – the material in invisible braces, scratch resistant lenses, memory foams, infrared thermometers and lasers, shoe insoles, long distance communication via satellite, smoke detectors, rumble strips, cordless and wireless technology, filters, and many innovations in household appliances, kitchen gadgets, and automobiles can be directly related to America’s space program.
By 2015, NASA was supposed to launch the new Orion Spaceships as part of the Constellation Program. That was scrapped in 2011 because of budget issues (how fitting seeing that the Senate hasn’t passed a budget in almost 1,100 days). As a small business owner, deciding not to move forward with a $150 billion project because something is thought to be too expensive is appreciated, BUT not at the risk of losing status as the planet’s sole aeronautical and military superpower. Plus, Americans get zero return on money spent on the UN, in Egypt, flying members of Congress and their families across the country, quarterly vacations all over the place often in two separate jumbo jets a mere three hours apart, $4 apiece shrimp for State Dinners, themed White House parties, or with monthly welfare checks people get to stay home, have babies, NOT WORK and go to Aaron’s (Rent to own!!! They don’t even make people pay when they leave the store with a 55” flat screen. How Exciting!).
Until the United States gets a new plan in place for space exploration, Astronauts will be hitching rides from the Russian Space Agency in their Soyuz Capsules. Correct, America just lost to the team it beat in a game that lasted 46 years and ended 23 years ago.
“The future does not lie to the faint-hearted, it belongs to the BRAVE.”
PANKO Strength & Speed, Proud Stewards of the American Dream