Monday, March 18, 2013

On Astronauts, Moon Walks, and Dreams

By Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco

When I was a kid I was absolutely enamored by the space program. I couldn't name the entire starting lineup for the hometown California Angels but I did know the names of all the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts.

I had large scrapbooks of newspaper clippings about anything related to my heroes and their amazing rockets and space capsules. I had my own imaginery space program with my brother. We named our own rockets, we sent all of our dogs and our friends dogs into space. (Laddie, my collie, the veteran, went twice), we would do imaginery space walks in my parents living room.

One time, my brother and I saved up our allowance and sent in for one of those cardboard submarines in the back of the comic books. We anxiously awaited for weeks for it's arrival. When we finally got it we turned it into our space capsule. We assembled and placed it in the living room. We were in there for days. Mom would come by every once in awhile and offer her freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and some milk but we were on a mission. "No thanks mom. We have tang and a tube of food. Besides you can't talk to us unless you have a walkie talkie. We're in space." She played along. She would call us from dad's CB Radio. "Eagle, Eagle. This is Mission Control. Do you read me?"

Not sure at what point I decided not to be an astronaut. Probably at the same time I really discovered baseball. Then I wanted to be the centerfielder for the California Angels. But the point is my fascination with space travel kind of waned over the years.

I was recently listening to 60 Minutes (linked from Bosco Radio...shameless plug here) and they were updating a story about how NASA and a private agency Spacex is gearing up to return to space travel, going to Mars and beyond. My first reaction was the same reaction I got when I was a kid. I got really excited and suddenly fascinated. Then reality set in.

You see, when I was a kid I didn't know the magnitude of the other things that really need our attention. I recently traveled coast to coast by train and was in 19 states. Along with the natural beauty of much of the United States, I also witnessed Urban blight and poverty in the United States. These are the types of things that need to be addressed first. We have such a huge defecit we, as a country, owe now that it's not even funny. I agree with former Senator Barney Franks, we can't afford to do this.

If there was solid evidence this would help the national defense then maybe we do this on the nation's taxpayers dime. But if it's just taking an intergallactic roadtrip with a "Because It's There" attitude then lets totally fund this privately with corporate money.

I want the fascination and the spirit of exploration as much as the next person but let's take care of our other problems first or let private industry fund this.

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