(WTVM) - Back in the early 1960s as NASA tested the first rockets to launch astronauts into space, many of those first-generation rockets blew up on the launch pad.
That would be enough to scare most people into walking away, but America’s first astronauts who would ride those rockets, eventually to the moon, were not “most people.”
The Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts all drove the crews on the ground to work the bugs out of their spacecrafts so their missions would succeed. They needed to lower their risks, but they also knew that risk would never be zero.
Now, 60 years later and 10 years since the last Space Shuttle flight, the first SpaceX manned flight to the International Space Station reminds us that any big accomplishment requires big risks.
Climbing on top of a huge, fiery rocket even in the year 2020 is maybe the biggest risk!
The early years of space travel directly led to some life changing inventions, like personal computers, cell phones, artificial limbs, scratch resistant lenses, memory foam and the computer mouse. Our lives were made better because of the risks those engineers and astronauts were willing to take.
This next stage of space travel is likely to bring us even more impressive technology.
But space exploration is about much more than cool inventions. It’s concrete proof that the American spirit of excellence is alive and well, this time working in a unique public-private partnership with NASA.
The American drive to explore has always been defined by us taking huge risks, like traveling west in rickety horse drawn wagons or flying a single engine plane solo across the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. We still salute that pioneering spirit.
Now the men and women bringing the American space program back from the dead can reach for farther frontiers: like going back to the moon, and then to Mars.
The design, production and successful launch of a 21st Century space capsule and returning its first-stage rocket to be reused in another flight, is a tremendous accomplishment. SpaceX and NASA’s newest success ought to give us all hope and confidence to take on risk ourselves so we can live our lives on earth to the fullest right now.
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