Has Our Space Exploration Drive Died?

For decades, humans have had a drive to fly, and even more, fly out to outer space. During the ’60s and ’70s, we expanded our flying technology in ways that were unimaginable at the time. In less than 10 years, we were able to land a man on the moon. I would have thought that by now, we would have been on Mars, or at the least, have a base on the moon.

But instead of having a continuous expansion to land a man on Mars, we slowed down. Our efforts dwindled and they slowly began to die out. More than 40 years have gone by, and we still have difficulty landing humans on the moon. Perhaps we got scared of what was out there, or maybe we finally reached a limit to our scientific advancements of the time, or it could be that even though we sent about a dozen humans to space, we never really gained any money from the exploration. While we did learn hundreds of thousands of new things about outer space, we really didn’t bring anything home that had any real monetary value.

For decades now, we’ve been stranded here on our planet not knowing what is going to happen next. Sure, we send out rovers to Mars, or we send out probes to other planets and moons, but never an actual human being. It wasn’t until our private business owners decided that it was time to keep the drive of exploration going that we decided it was time for us to pick up the pace once more. But how much of our technology and knowledge did we sacrifice by not doing anything for years? I’m sure you will argue against that and say “well, we actually did something, we came up with theories” and you’re right. We really did come up with hundreds of theories about what was going on in our universe. We came up with theories about light, black holes, white holes, and the list goes on and on. We have hundreds of different theories that have found life on other planets – on paper – but not in real, known, 100%-solid facts.

Some may argue that the reason we had such an amazing expansion in the beginning was because we had a space race with Russia and now that we won the race, there is no reason to keep on going. If that is the case, then who are going to race against next? If those people are correct, then that might explain why private companies are wanting to get to Mars. Those companies have created a new space race among themselves. But what’s going to happen when that race is also finished?

Have we become the type of humans that while we are dying to know what is out there and how it works, instead of actually taking to the skies and space to learn how it’s done, we’d rather sit and try to make sense of it on paper? Sure, we’ll know exactly how the universe works, but then when we go out to the cosmos we realize our formula was off, or our math was incorrect. I understand we need planning, we need to know “if this, then that”, but we need to have some sort of hands-on experimentation going on at the same time to rule out accidents and fix the problems as they come up.

We need to be out there, doing something. Now that the US shuttle program is finished, what is going to happen to all the children or the dreamers who want to become an astronaut to visit other planets? Who is going to become the next Neil Armstrong of Mars, and beyond? We need to find a way to encourage young children to learn more about the cosmos and what is going on.

Just because we’ve reached the end of an era doesn’t mean that the astronaut dream needs to die out as well.