Letter from the editor

I want to look up and see the stars.

One of the most serenely jubilant and awe-inspiring activities of my life is to gaze out at the universe and remember how minute my place is in it. I want to take it all in and contemplate my childhood heroes, the astronauts who’ve been there.

I want to think that future endeavors will stretch the horizons of humankind and capture the world’s attention the way space exploration used to.

But, despite the recent success of the Curiosity rover, government budget cuts to NASA in the ballpark of 38.5 percent have been crippling to the planetary exploration division. And a little piece of the child in me is crying.

Missions to other worlds have made remarkable discoveries, and I can’t see how reducing the budget of a program that catapults the public’s interest to such great heights can be seen as anything but a dumb idea.

Enjoy the stunning photographs from Curiosity now, because planned missions that have been in development for years are being shut down.

I want to remember how I felt when I first heard the immortal words of the late Neil Armstrong taking his first steps on the lunar surface. I can still recall the crackle as he relayed to CAPCOM “…one giant leap for mankind.”

Are we done taking those leaps?  I hope not.

NASA’s budget is barely more than a molecule-sized portion of the government’s entire spending. Without getting too political (enough politics already, right?) I can say resolutely that there are other areas for the U.S. to cut spending: areas that probably deserve to be reduced if not removed. According to astronomer Phil Plait, the rate of money spent on wars in the Middle East comes to about $20 million per hour.

I realize that these are economically tough times, and there are those who see the science and research of space exploration as an unneeded luxury. I get that, to an extent. NASA launches are very expensive.

But what is the cost of a dream? Of stretching the boundaries of human understanding of the universe? The surviving shuttles, Atlantis, Discovery, and Endeavor were retired in 2011 and are scattered in astronautics museums across the country.

By Cutter Kilgore

America landed on the moon at a time when VHS tapes had yet to be developed. It’s time to take the next step.

I want to look up and see stars and dream of a time when someone, somewhere will visit the next frontier.

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