I consider myself one of the lucky ones. When I was born air travel was just making a full-scale adoption of passenger jets (a trip to Miami became as time-consuming as a drive to the Catskills). When I got my drivers license $5 would fill the tank, get a glass with a cartoon character on it, with enough left over for a soda and a candy bar. between 1st grade and high school he space race graduated from Shepherd's and Grissom's suborbital flights through the Project Mercury men orbiting solo, the tandems of the Gemini missions, through the Apollo trips to the moon and back.
I am know 58. Airlines still use jets. My gas purchases now need a $50 bill, with no glass and an uncertain amount of change, if any. And the Russians have one the space race.
That last items galls me. Not that the Russians are still sending men into space, but that we, the US, are not. Why not?
I remember JFK's statement about putting a man on the moon, words spoken before Congress in May 1961, when the US man-in-space time was a total of 15 minutes and 28 seconds: I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before
this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the
Earth. No single space project...will be more exciting, or more impressive to
mankind, or more important...and none will be so difficult or expensive to
The benefits of the "space race" were plentiful.
The only Presidential statements that come close to Kennedy's in my mind are Reagan's "Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall" and his comment "The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave." This last comment was made during his message to the nation after the Challenger disaster in 1986.
Now we no longer have a space race. No more men in space. People I know say that that is good, we have better things to spend our money on. They must be omniscient, being able to determine the value of scientific quests before they have even happened.
When I see what our culture pays professional athletes and Hollywood actors and actresses, and how we cut funds to schools on an annual basis, I am not surprised that we have killed the space program. Not surprised at all.