The Negative Voice
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2003-02-02 - 4:42 p.m.

Why I Love Manned Spaceflight

It took only a few minutes (well, maybe hours) for people on Usenet to start debating the utility of manned space flight. Some people still believe that unmanned probes can bring back the information we need for lower costs and no risk to human lives.

I would like to take a moment to call those people jackasses.

As I told Julie today, I just don't see what the point to the whole damn universe is if we can't get there some day.

In a more abstract way, I'm fond of a phrase from, Ged help me, Star Trek: The Motion Picture: "The human adventure is just beginning." Sometimes I also think of it as the human envelope. What can a human being do? We can dive to the bottom of the deepest oceans. We can land on the Moon. So far, that's the envelope. Everything we've been doing since Apollo and the Trieste's voyage to the Challenger Deep has been exploring more points inside the existing envelope.

That irks me. I don't want my generation to be the first that grows up having done nothing our parents didn't do. I can't even stand the thought that decades from now, children will learn about the Moon landings as some sort of never-to-be-repeated achievement of the Golden Age. I want a Mars mission before 2010. After what happened Columbia yesterday, I won't get it. Now I'm shooting for 2015. If NASA needs more money, they can tell me where to write the check. I'll do my part. I'll do it because I want Liralyn to think that the frontiers of what she can do are always expanding, not limited by some bureaucrat's lack of imagination, comprehension, or courage.

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