The stars have obsessed Man throughout our existence on the planet. We have stared at the distant pinpoints of light and asked if anyone was out there. Our ancient ancestors thought the cosmos was the home of the gods, Christians prayed upward to heaven, and modern scientists have mapped the universe with telescopes. Our early ventures into Space were on the nose of rockets.
During the Cold War Russia and the USA raced into Space on those giant firecrackers.
Every launch was done in top secrecy and skeptics have continually accused NASA of faking the 1969 Landing on the Moon, but no one doubted the performance the US Space Shuttles blasting off from Cape Kennedy.
Since 1982 the six manned spacecraft have lifted from this mortal coil.
Twice the missions ended in disaster. The Challenger exploded on take-off in 1986 and Columbia disintegrated on entry in 2003.
In 2009 the Atlantis lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center for the final space mission to the International Space Station.
335 astronauts have ridden the Shuttle into orbit. The fleet has clocked over 500,000,000 miles in that time. A long way for Man, but light travels the 93 million miles between the Sun and the Earth in a little more than 8 minutes, so Man is not ready for the stars and many of us stranded on the planet wonder about the future of NASA's space program, especially with NASA touting the efforts of Boeing and the Sierra Nevada Corporation to develop a cheaper version of the Space Shuttle. Several other ventures are financing the corporate race into Space. None are capable of producing a manned orbiter within this decade, leaving Mankind locked on Mother Earth.
The International Space Station will have to be supplied by Russian rockets until the replacement shuttles are ready for Space.
The GOP are hoping on never, because the religious right are convinced that the heavens are for the dead and not the living.
But I'm a Trekkie and Trekkies always believe that when the shit gets a foot high we step a foot higher.
And I believe in the old Space motto, "Next year Andromeda."
But just in case I'm ready to construct my own orbiter powered by two gallons of Mississippi moonshine attached to a lawn chair.
Total outlay $98.
Possible lift-off of 5 feet.
Yes, I do want to be a spaceman.