I can remember lunar landings. I can remember watching the Shuttle Enterprise take her maiden flight (without engines!!!) from the back of a beefed-up 747. I remember Skylab. I remember the Apollo-Soyuz Mission. I remember when we were all in a state of collective wonder over mankind’s first baby-steps into space. When we spent weeks at a time with such things dominating our school playground conversations.
But now it seems, as we enter into what could be termed our space travel adolescence, we have to choose. Like a teenager, we must make some “life choices”. Will we strive to hold onto that purity-that nobility of purpose-that inspires awe? Will we take the quick thrill route and become more concerned with shallow surface impressions and flashy presentation? Or, will we- worst of all-become uncaring and apathetic?
Recently, it was announced that Virgin would be performing the first wedding in space. Good for them, and many regards to the happy couple. But is this what it was all about? Did Yuri Gagarin and John Glenn risk their lives so that we could have super-expensive novelty theme weddings? Did the crews of the Apollo 1, the Challenger, and the Columbia give theirs so that the mesosphere could become the new Vegas?
I know that, like any frontier, there are going to be those who will capitalize on space by packaging it as glitzy and glamorous. I’m not against that. But let’s not lose sight of the original goals. Let’s not forget to sit down and watch a launch with our kids. Let us all still gasp in amazement as a brave astronaut floats weightlessly outside a shuttle’s cargo bay. Let’s not lose the awe and wonder.