Nation of explorers must return to the final frontier

The recent passing of Leonard Nimoy seems to have brought forth the nerds. "Star Trek" started in 1966, just five years after the Soviet Union sent a man to space. President John F. Kennedy announced that "(America) should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth." Within a year of this announcement, we had sent John Glenn to orbit the earth three times before safely returning to Earth. A month after "Star Trek: The Original Series ended in June 1969", Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first ever men to walk on the moon.

In 1969, NASA comprised 4.5 percent of America's total budget. By 2012, it was down to only 0.5 percent. We launched our last space shuttle in 2011; America has given up on space.

We were once the nation that sought to boldly go where no man had gone before. Now, the only time you hear about NASA is when its budget is cut or when a launch at the International Space Station is delayed.

We’ve spent billions on war in the past decade, yet we can't be bothered to consider funding the agency that ushered in a new era of human exploration. We’ve given up on an organization that brought us clean energy technologies, water filtration and purification systems, power drills, CAT scans, scratch resistant lenses and cell phone cameras. We’ve given up on a mission that inspired a generation to begin researching astrophysics. We’ve given up on a mission that developed mathematics, while discovering how the universe truly works.

We now leave the exploration to private companies and foreign powers. We’re no longer at the forefront of the future and we’re no longer explorers.

The history of man is the history of man's exploration – we left the cave, founded new countries, discovered new continents, found new people and then we went to the stars. We touched the heavens and found what they were made of, and then in the home stretch, we returned home and ceased to explore.

There’s currently a mission being developed that will send four humans to Mars. They will be the first humans to set foot on another planet, going where only robots have gone before. The mission is funded by a Netherlands-based non-profit organization called, “Mars One.” I love that we as a species are sending people to another planet, but as an American, I am ashamed that my country isn’t funding the Mars One mission. We touched the moon and decided that it was far enough?

That is not the American way.

With vast wealth and the world’s greatest scientists at its disposal, America has the resources do almost anything it wants. We have the drive to create new technologies and discover new worlds. As a nation, we could send people to Mars. America has always been the land of pioneers – our place in history should not be on the sidelines.

As a nation, we need to get our heads back in the clouds. We need to want to go back to space and become the explorers I know we are. We need to discover strange new worlds, to seek out new life and (possibly) new civilizations.

America needs to go where no man has gone before.



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