I used to have a T-shirt – a tiny one – that I had saved for the longest time. It was commemorative of the first lunar landing from 1969. I was 3 then, so I don’t remember it the moon shot – or who gave me the T-shirt – but for some reason, I kept it for a very long time.
I do remember, though, staying up late one night in the spring of 1972 to watch the Apollo 16 launch. It was the coolest thing for a first-grader. Space. I was hooked. I spent the next year or so planning on becoming an astronaut when I grew up. (I also remember on that telecast of the launch that some reporter interviewed a 90-year guy who swore up and down that it was all a hoax and some with movie special effects, like from “2001: A Space Odyssey” . . . I remember thinking the equivalent of, that guy is such a Luddite, even though I didn’t know what a Luddite was at that time).
As I got older, I realized I didn’t have the math chops to do the astronaut gig. I was a word guy. But I never lost my fascination with space and have generally supported space exploration and experimentation (with the exception of Reagan’s goofy Star Wars idea and Bush’s idea of going back to the moon, which is sort of a been-there-done-that waste time).
So I have been fairly disappointed at the calls to cut NASA’s budget back even more than it has been, although there has been talk in some quarters about a new, heavy investment in technological developments which may open up more effective travel to other bodies in the Solar System.
Since I am just a layman and don’t have any author on the subject, maybe Neil deGrasse Tyson, American astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium and popularizer of science, can convince you this is a good thing.
Here Tyson makes a hard-to-refute argument for keeping NASA fully funded and expanding new frontiers: