Tuesday, June 22, 2004

More on Space

My short entry earlier tonight didn't nearly capture the elation of spirit I felt when I read about Mike Melvill's space voyage this morning. My parents raised me on science fiction - the first movie I remember seeing in the theater was Empire Strikes Back, and I had 45-rpm records of the entire trilogy that I'd listen to religiously on my Fisher-Price record player. My mom took me to every Star Trek movie, even the bad ones, and she introduced me to Gene's vision on television. We watched the entire original series in reruns, and all of Next Generation when it came out. I read Verne and Lovecraft (try reading HP in the fifth grade - it explains a bit about my psyche, though).

I'm going to reveal something almost too-sweet about my inner geek-dom: I truly believe in Gene Roddenberry's vision of space travel as a unifying force. The spirit of the Enterprise and its journey of discovery is that people have set aside their differences, differences of race, religion, ideology, and everything else, to work for a greater cause. Really, it's the greatest cause - the selfless giving for no reason other than the joy of discovery and learning.

As cynical and angry as I come across in my daily life, as cynical and angry as I fear I've become, reading about Melvill's accomplishment really reminded me of how I used to believe, and rekindled the hope that someday, we can really make it that way. We're ready to drop a probe onto Titan that may very well reveal the existence of life outside of our planet. We're seeing pictures of the very birth of our universe. And we've brought space travel out of the hands of governments, who saw it as way to spy on our enemies and plant a Star Wars system that had nothing to do with the movie, and giving it to common people. People who can, one day, decide to explore, for profit or glory or more noble causes, and perhaps offer even a small shred of Gene's vision.

1 comment:

Seth said...

I believe space travel will do one of two things: It may be the grand endeavour that will finally unite the race, and take us on to the next stage in our great journey....or it might open up a wider frontier that allows our various factions to go claim their own territory and become more entrenched than ever. Though I hope for the former, I will at least enjoy the latter if we end up with a Planet of the Amish.