Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stars: Our fading fascination with space

The days of America sending astronauts into space is over.

Last week, NASA's Space Shuttle program ended with the successful landing of Space Shuttle Atlantis.

What has been a regular fabric of my lifetime ~ American's fascination with space exploration ~ has waned in recent years. There just isn't the same interest in the American space program that I remember as a child, when man was first exploring Moon, starting with the historic Apollo 11 flight in 1969. Remember "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind?"

While Space Shuttle Mission STS-135 was authorized last year, it initially had no appropriation in the NASA budget. There were questions about whether the mission would fly. After a lot of haggling on Capitol Hill, money was found and, finally, STS-135 got the green light to proceed in April. Space Shuttle Atlantis was launched on July 8 and was originally scheduled to land on July 20. However, it was extended by an additional day.

On July 21, Space Shuttle Atlantis safely returned to Earth at 5:57 a.m. EDT and NASA's space shuttle program, for all intents and purposes, ended with the mission's conclusion. Ironically, it was 53 years ago this week that President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which created NASA.

Thinking about our nation's space exploration, I am reminded of the ethereal sound scape "Stars" by German electronic musician Ulrich Schnauss, a song I've been listening to on my iPod with great frequency.

Beginning or end.
When it's all gone,
Why should I pretend?
All these days,
Will never come back.
Do you remember,
Or did you forget?

Losing with every step I take,
Losing with every move I make.
Turn into everything I hate,
Losing with every move I make.

Looking at the stars, must be a reason.
Why our hopes feel lost in the glow for every season.
Looking at the stars, I see that they move on.
Because I'm not sure if you miss me, I move on.
I move on ... 
Carry on.

Now, looking up at the sky and admiring all those bright stars on a clear night just won't be the same.

"Stars" lyrics by Ulrich Schnauss, copyright 2007.
Video courtesy of YouTube.

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