Friday, July 22, 2011

America Surrenders its Space Superiority

With the landing of Space Shuttle Atlantis, America ends its presence in space. (Hopefully, only for the time being)

Beginning in 1981, two years into my lifetime, the Space Shuttle program allowed for America to continue its superiority in space that was cemented in the 1960s. The technology used in the shuttle was highly advanced, was perfected from researched started in the 1960s and these crafts were the first designed for reuse. Putting the science and technology aside, the Space Shuttle was just darn cool and awe inspiring, especially for fellow Gen-Xers, who were growing up during its heyday. I remember watching takeoffs on television from a young age, and still enjoy them to this day. I've been in Florida on takeoff days and while I haven't seen the actual takeoff from Cape Canaveral, or while flying into/out of MCO, the Space Shuttle can be seen in flight 50 miles west, from Disney and the Orlando Metro Area. The program has suffered two major tragedies in Challenger and Columbia, but we have learned from them and turned that tragedy into triumph. The Space Shuttle program has achieved the following positive results: continued and consistent human presence in space along with work done on the International Space Station, the Hubble Space telescope, and the maintenance and placement of various satellites so we can learn more about planet Earth and the universe around us.

A good leader should know his or her successes and proudly showcases them. The Space Shuttle Program has been an American success story. To give up on this program and let Russia, China and others pick up the slack is like throwing a race one is winning and definitely brings into question, the president's leadership skills and abilities. With the cancellation of the Constellation Program, and President Obama's redirection of NASA's mission causes the United States to lose major footing and take a back seat to space exploration. The retirement of the Space Shuttle Program will also hurt the states of Texas and Florida, as unemployment will rise, with Central Florida already hit particularly hard by the economic problems in the United States.

For now, we will longingly remember the Space Shuttle Program in video, museums and books. Florida MUST remember this in 2012, and I believe they will. Hopefully, America will have a president who will pick up where the Space Shuttle Program left off, allowing the United States to, once again, reach for the stars.

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