What’s Next?

For the last 30 years the Space Shuttle program has represented the glory and the passion we had as a nation for space exploration.  Under Shuttle’s watch we have discovered distant galaxies further away than we ever imagined, launched the Hubble Space Telescope, discovered methane oceans on Saturn’s moon Titan, and many, many more discoveries.  It’s sad now that the final Shuttle mission has been launched, we have come to the end of an era.  It was a wonderful era that spans my entire life.  All I’ve ever known as a child up until now was that astronauts flew to space on the back of 3 gigantic booster rockets in a plane called a shuttle.  I wasn’t alive for the awe-inspiring multiple stage rockets of the 1960’s and ’70’s but I can imagine they were equally as memorable as Shuttle was.

In recent years, especially during the Obama presidency, the government’s interest in NASA has dwindled and the funding has been cut several times.  People often wonder how much more we really need to do in space now that we’ve landed on the moon, sent robots to the other planets and collected comet dust?  Why should our tax dollars continue to fund a program we don’t think is absolutely necessary?  The great NASA astronaut Jim Lovell Jr. once said, “Imagine what would have happened if Christopher Columbus had discovered the New World and nobody followed in his footsteps”.  Lovell’s comparison is astounding.  The story of human history and its charge from God has been, and always should be to have dominion over the world.  We have always been exploring, whether it be distant continents, under the ocean, or in deep space, what we don’t understand has always intrigued us as a civilization.  So why stop here?

NASA scientists have been working hard to develop the next method of space travel to take us to the next level.  There are rumors of Star Wars-like ion propulsion techniques that could enable us to travel to the stars within a human lifetime!  Or solar sails that are super lightweight and catch the energy of photons (light particles) to create motion.

Whatever NASA comes up with, we can be sure that there will be a somewhat long period of time before we set out to conquer space again.  It is my hope that the human spirit of exploration is not quenched by budget-slashing politicians or ignorant citizens.  But that it is supported and further developed by individuals who are hungry for the truth of the universe we live in.  To better understand our world, its past, present, and future we must study where and how our planet came from.  How God in His all-powerful being created our planet and the cosmos around us.  That should be our ultimate goal: to better be amazed at creation in order to love the Creator God.  However we do that I’m sure God will bring us the means.  Until then, Shuttle we will miss you!

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