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Letter to America

written by Alex Moore on February 07, 2003 | author profile | forum profile | contact me
number of views: 77081 |   printable version (text) (PDF)

Space Shuttle Columbia takes off.
Space Shuttle Columbia takes off.
Credit: Unknown
This article is actually an email I wrote to my local newscaster on KDKA Radio, Pittsburgh. I also emailed my thoughts to Rush Limbaugh and several other talk-radio figures.

My name is Alex Moore. I am a junior at Canon-McMillan high school in Pittsburgh. I write to you today because I'm becoming completely disgusted with the public's short attention span and complete apathy for the space program.

I own a website called Red a hobby of mine which has grown into the largest Mars colonization site on the Internet. From students to professors to NASA engineers, my visitors have the chance to take part in a rapidly growing community that I feel will only grow in the years to come.

I will forever remember Saturday, February 1, 2003. Being born three days after the Challenger disaster, I never really understood the significance of the event. On Saturday, it hit me.

NASA is not lost. Columbia is lost, nothing more. The defeatists out there need to stop screaming about the end of the space program and remember that there's this thing called the American Way. As Americans, we take a problem and fix it. That's what defines a great country. We don't cover up a mishap like a wart, dismissing it as nonexistent. Look at Germany after the Hindenberg disaster. The Nazis, not wanting to reveal a weakness, conducted no investigation. And remember, the Russians failed literally dozens of launches and landings, one right after another in some cases. If NASA were replaced, it would just mean a name change and a reshuffle of staff. Let's keep things the way they are. It works.

Also, the space program is not irrelevant! Going to space, the moon and beyond, may well be the most important accomplishment in human history. The discoveries we find in the stars will lead us to the greater understanding of ourself and of our world. Imagine finding bacterial life outside Earth! Imagine walking on a warm, green, oxygen-filled Mars, wearing nothing but a t-shirt and shorts and thinking of all the people who made it possible. When you make human spaceflight seem "routine," you've accomplished something amazing. Some of the smartest people alive work for NASA, and people who harass the administration need to sit in on one of their meetings.

I believe the Space Shuttle has had a long and successful life, but it is time to move on. I do not say this because of the disaster on Saturday... I have said this for years. We need to investigate ways to put humans in space at a reduced cost, and we need to find out how to do it often. But most importantly, we have to look toward our neighbor in space. In the sixties, John F. Kennedy rallied this nation together toward the common goal of reaching the moon. He not only accomplished his goal, but the moon-landing marks the most fantastic event in the space program to date. That was 34 years ago. NASA had to invent things no one had ever dreamed of. Today we have the technology and the ability to go to Mars, but we do not. Maybe we need another JFK. Could it be Bush? There has never been a better time.

The seven astronauts on Columbia died having achieved their lifelong goal of going to space. For two astronauts, they were the first representatives of their respective countries. They died a noble death and have been immortalized as heroes of mankind. But in the words of mission specialist, David Brown's parents, "In the back of his mind, he had a dream to go to Mars. They all did." We can let this disaster devastate human space exploration, or we can honor those astronauts' dreams.

George W. Bush will be forever remembered for putting it this way: "The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on." We do it not because it easy, but because it is hard.

Alex Moore

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