The Space Program - an Old Fart's View         Back Home

When I was a little kid in the early-to-mid 1960's, the space program was on the forefront.  The seven Mercury astronauts on the cover of Life magazine.  Walter Cronkite and everybody else in the media worshipping the whole concept.  During the course of the space race, I could name everybody involved, in order (I sure can't now) and I built the plastic models of the the moon rocket.

I was too young (and perhaps our parents were too naive, or too respectful of executive government at the time) to realize, but it was all a political ploy.  Yes, an incredible, nearly impossible challenge and adventure, but all politically motivated.  We simply HAD to beat the Russians to the moon to prove we were technologically superior.  We put men on the moon in 1969 with computers that were way dumber than handheld games are today.  That's what motivation will get you.

Fast forward a bit - not to today, but to another "then."  When the space shuttle Challenger exploded, I cried.  I was still a space junkie, even then.  That upset me BAD.  Sometime between then and now, the whole imaginary stimulation of it (the space program in general) wore off.

Now, rewind a bit, back to my middle school days. For a couple of years, I went to a really fancy school.  We actually had a TV in the classroom.  It was math class.  Before the teacher came in, we were all watching the guys walk on the moon - I think the Apollo 15 mission.  I snuck and turned the TV on and put it on that channel, and all of us kids were enthralled.

The teacher came in and abruptly turned it off and said, "Turn to page 97 in your math books."

I led the protests in the classroom.  "They're walking on the MOON!  This is great!"

The teacher said, "They've done that already.  Now, hush and open your books."

Back then the teacher was about as old as I am now.  It took me this long to understand her stance, though it seemed senseless at the time.  Now, I have that same take, too.

They've done that already.  What a gosh-awful waste of billions of our tax dollars.

Yes, there are the arguments about how many special products have been invented as a result of the space program, products we use and take for granted every day (Velcro, etc.).  Well...there are too many problems here on earth to be spending that much money up in the air (or more exactly, way PAST the air).  Granted, it's easy to forget that NASA is just another government agency that wants to keep its own employees on our payroll, while we as taxpayers don't get to ride on the shuttle or the next rocket version or whatever.  We can only watch.

I'm finally tired of watching.