BON VOYAGER, CHARLIE BROWN!
Last week, NASA, formerly the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, but lately more ADMINISTRATION than SPACE, managed to make good history in space right up there with faking the 1969 moon landing.
Voyager, the satellite launched in 1977 became last week the first man-made object to travel beyond our own solar system. NASA punched another hole in Orion’s Belt. Pass the asteroid gravy, please.
It’s all interstellar downhill from here, right?
I hope so. This is the part where I was going to write a bunch of witty stuff about all the wackiness Voyager could find in interstellar space. Hell, “Star Trek” appropriated the whole Voyager excitement for the first voyage of the Enterprise on the big screen – “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (notable for bald women, “the Kirk unit”, lots of talk about V’ger, and Spock making out with the Voyager probe. Or something like that.)
But I can’t really think of anything funny to say. It is cool that out there right now, as I write this, the little probe that could is soaring through space. Right now, there are electronics and, I dunno, steel and plastic and glass and maybe a little spit and baling wire touched by human hands now touching hitherto unknown parts of space.
You can tell I’m impressed by all this since I’m using words like “hitherto” un-ironically.
Untold millions watched the 1969 moon landing live on TV. We haven’t gone back since. (Hollywood could take a lesson from NASA’s distaste for sequels.) We don’t even have a space shuttle anymore.
I get that America is broke. I get that there are a ton of expensive worthwhile needs for whatever dollars we do have.
But…there’s something to be said for discovery and the spirit and determination it takes to foster discovery. Maybe we don’t find alien life or some stunning space phenomenon, but maybe the quest keeps our thirst for knowledge alive. And then we can start working on some of these other problems – education and poverty and all the rest.
And if Voyager does find something out there? Well, that’s just a bonus.