How To Keep The Thrill Of Space Travel Alive

Charles T. Rubin at The New Atlantis:

As the story is often told, even before the era of manned lunar exploration ended, policymakers and the public were losing interest. It was enough to have fulfilled the promise of President John F. Kennedy, and to have “beat the Russians.” President Richard Nixon may have paid lip service to bigger and bolder goals when he announced the space shuttle program, but he was also clear about the shuttle’s less-than-inspiring purpose — to “revolutionize transportation into near space, by routinizing it.” Perhaps we should better appreciate the wonders of the commercial world, but to make something routine is precisely to suck the wonder out of it, to make it uninteresting. And indeed, that is pretty much what happened.

It may seem odd that things should have turned out this way. For while many are the wonders of our technological powers, surely few are more wonderful than our ability to reach outer space, and to survive there for extended periods. And getting into space is just the beginning of the wonders.

more here.