One Last Look at the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s Cockpit Before It’s Shut Down Forever
I just don’t understand why we’re not living on the moon or in space or traveling to distant planets.
I mean, 500 years ago some nincompoop “accidentally” landed on an island that wasn’t India, a New World was discovered, and ever country with access to a rowboat set sail to claim land and explore.
We got to the moon in 1969.
We haven’t been back since 1972.
I. Don’t. Understand.
It defies westward expansion, it defies manifest destiny, it defies human logic, it defies everything about what made America America, it defies everything about humanity going back to “Oh, hey, maybe after we’re done standing up in this African field we should go walk a bit and then see if there’s anything past this plain. These thumbs sure are awesome.”
And now we’re just giving up.
I mean, c’mon.
We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.
There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.