This afternoon I watched the launch of the Discover. It was the first launch I'd seen since January 28, 1986. I was five and I don't think I really realized how much it shook me up until today when the countdown started and then fire and smoke filled the screen. I sat clenched, unable to breath until the announcer said they were safely into orbit. It was pretty awesome to watch and I was a tiny bit jealous of the adventure the astronauts were beginning. But not so jealous that I'd be willing to risk my life to take their place.
But as I listened to the pre-launch ramble by the NASA guys and the CNN people I got more and more disgusted with the whole thing. I mean, they're spending billions of dollars on this project and risking lives with each launch. And for what? A cure for cancer? A possible solution to our fuel problem? No. They're doing all of this so we can eventually, years and years down the line, land on Mars. You see, we have to finish this space station so that human beings can learn to live in that sort of atmosphere for several years. And once we're able to accomplish that then we might be able to send some willing citizens to Mars. I'm sure they'll bring a car.
I'm not saying it wouldn't be cool. It would definitely be cool. But why is it so important that we go to Mars? How is it going to improve life for us? What did we get out of going to the Moon besides some carefully selected rocks and a few cool pictures? I mean, we've never gone back. It obviously didn't help mankind along enough to warrant another visit. So is going to Mars really worth the money and labor? I don't know. Maybe I'm missing the big picture or perhaps there's a greater good that I didn't see between the lines.
I don't get it. But it sure did look cool.
2 days ago