Small Steps For Mankind

By the time this blog hits the airwaves, the final shuttle mission will have concluded and this era of space exploration will be closed. 135 missions over 3o years. For me, this is both a sad and a happy time. Being someone who grew up addicted to Star Trek, Star Wars, and other space related stories (yes, I was known to watch Lost In Space as a kid), I became a real believer that the exploration of space would help us continue to thrive. And now, another chapter of that quest has come to a close. To honor that end, I went in search of information about the future of space travel.

First, I’d like to recap a brief history of the space program:

  • 1957/1958 – The Soviet Union launches Sputnik I and NASA is launched
  • 1961-1972 – Projects Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo put men further into space
  • 1975 – Apollo-Soyuz – first international flight in conjunction with the Soviet Union
  • 1981 – 2011 – The Space Shuttle Program
  • 1998 – The beginning of the International Space Station, with multiple nations involved.

There have been some amazing accomplishments during this process, most notably on July 20, 1969. History was made when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface. The video below is really more about Walter Cronkite than the landing, but I remember his emotion to this day. 

There have also been some horrific failures. Sometimes, it didn’t seem worth it. Yet we, as a planet, persevere in the quest for knowledge of “what’s out there”.

So what’s in store for the future of space exploration? Well, NASA is looking to send mankind further into space. The ISS (International Space Station) is still actively in research mode and will be kept stocked by Russia, Europe, and Japan for now. Commercial companies appear poised to take that job over in the next few years. And NASA continues to launch unmanned spacecraft to study the dynamics of space.

Also, don’t forget the positive effect on our daily lives. MRI’s and laser eye surgery are a direct result of NASA research. Smoke detectors, ergonomic desks, memory foam, invisible braces, bar coding, purified water – yep, all got their start in space research.

My thanks go out to everyone involved with the space programs. I would love to see regular space flight as a part of our daily lives, but doubt it will happen in my lifetime.

Still, a not so closet trekkie can dream, can’t she? 🙂

 posted by Laurie Ryan


16 responses to “Small Steps For Mankind

  1. What a nice post. I forgot (and wasn’t even really aware) what an impact that program has had on our lives. Thank you for the reminder!

  2. You’re welcome. It’s astounding what all is attributed to the space program. It’s not just the exploration of space. It’s enhanced all our lives in one way or another.

  3. Wow, feeling old when history doesn’t seem like history. Thanks for the post.

  4. I know what you mean, Lavada. I remember those events in 1969 as if they were yesterday. While searching for a video, I found a lot of Walter Cronkite stuff on You Tube. It was a real walk down memory lane.

  5. Valerie J. Patterson

    This was a nice article. One that caused me to pause and think about our history as a nation in space exploration. I enjoyed reading this piece.

  6. I’m glad you enjoyed it Valerie. I needed to remind myself that this isn’t an ending, it’s a fresh new beginning. But it’s amazing how far we’ve come, eh?

  7. Lovely post, Laurie.

    The last flight of the Space Shuttle made it to our prime news. I too watched in sadness as the last flight touched down.

    Throughout history man has striven to explore new worlds, risking everything to discover the world and the universe around him. Without people willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, we are not human beings, just animals living our lives on a planet.

    It is in human nature to reach for the stars, just like we reached for the unknown continents around the globe many centuries ago.

    I hope in time that the economic climate becomes more stable and that space programs like this can be a priority once more. Thanks for sharing, Laurie. 🙂

  8. Well said, Jan. I agree completely. 🙂

  9. Really interesting post, Laurie. I hadn’t realised we owe so much in our everyday lives to the space program.

    I remember the 1969 landing so clearly – what an exciting time that was.

  10. And I only listed a few of the things we can attribute to research into travel in space, Tricia.
    It was an exciting time. I don’t think we’re done. Just…pending for a while. And that’s not a bad thing in my book. Taking time to research the next step is important.

  11. Great post, Laurie. I’m not one that would want to do space travel but I think it’s a great idea. I just wouldn’t want to be out there in the wild blue/black yonder. LOL!

  12. I would go in a heartbeat, Jillian. And that’s really something, coming from claustrophobic me. lol

  13. Wonderful post, Laurie. i will return to it from time to time.

    I still recall our high school teacher lecturing when Sputnik launched into orbit around the earth … the first. She railed at us, pounding her fist, pacing, and throwing her hands up in the air …. for not keeping up with math and science, and said that we absolutely mustn’t let them win! She was a Russian refugee with a master’s degree, and the best teacher I ever had. A

    And now Russia and the US have been on a joint venture.

    I read in the paper today that NASA is thinking up a plan to land on an asteroid. Not spectacular perhaps, like a Space Station, but I don’t think Space Exploration will truly stop, but be re-directed. Behind the scenes lurks what is really going on.

  14. Janette Harjo

    Interesting post, Laurie! Very educational. This stuff has been going on all my life and so I’ve just taken it for granted, I guess. The ending of space shuttles didn’t effect me the way it did you. I watched Star Trek and Star Wars, but never considered myself a “Trekkie.” :))

    Thanks for posting it!


  15. Marion,
    I completely agree with you. Space exploration won’t end and there are probably some very exciting events coming in the future. Still, it’s sad to see the end of the era of travel, eh?

    My husband and I go outside regularly to “see” the International Space Station fly over. If anyone’s interested in trying to do that, here’s a link to my earlier blog that has the NASA web address in it:

  16. Hi, Janette! Thanks for the comment. Yes, I’m definitely a Trekkie, although it’s more reality based for me than Sci-Fi conventions. How cool is it that you can say space travel has been there your whole life. 🙂

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