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As I left for the airport yesterday morning, I was excited to find out that I might be privileged enough to see the Shuttle Discovery land in our area. As I made my way to the airport I was surprised to see the number of people who had parked along the road reaching all the way from the exit to 28 North in Centreville from I-66 and along the ten mile march into the airport.
I continued into the airport and much to my surprise I was able to make out a speck along the skyline swiftly approaching the airport. This was it and I was excited! My footage is not the best but I managed to wrestle my cellphone from my bag just in time to document a truly historic event that I wished to share with you.
It was at this moment that the painful realization occurred to me that a truly significant era of mankind had come to an end. As we have no plans in place for manned spaceflight in any near future, it can only be inferred that the our curiosity for the unexplored has faltered. I ask myself, will we ever get back to the track laid out for us by President Kennedy, a track that ignited our fifty plus years of spaceflight which ushered in an era of industry and technology. But more, it saddens me at this moment to remember his statement from so long ago.
“The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space. Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it–we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.”
…to boldly go where no man has gone before…