There is a daycare playground that I pass almost every day. On the playground sit two plastic space shuttles – of the springy, bouncy, fun variety.
I believe in American exceptionalism. America is great, not because of skin color or cultural nuances, but because of her principled freedom and resulting achievements. The ultimate example of this is the U.S. space agency – NASA – and her crowning achievement: the Space Shuttle.
I have a family member that works in the space program, and there has been much talk of President Obama’s plans to cancel the space shuttle. NASA, and specifically the shuttle program, represents America’s best and most innovative work. Many of the things we use everyday were created or perfected by NASA scientists: scratch resistant lenses, memory foam, ear thermometers, cordless tools, and water filters. But in addition to these things, NASA gives us something greater: the ability to explore the unknown world of space, and the resulting innovations that benefit all mankind.
I listened yesterday as my friend’s son, 5 years old, explained to me the workings of the space shuttle toy that he was so proudly exhibiting. He had me “countdown” for the launch, and then lifted the space shuttle and rocket boosters up, up, up towards the ceiling fan. I was amazed when the rocket booster fell away at precisely the right moment, and he indicated that a “parachute” would open and bring them back down. NASA is the stuff dreams are made of – exploring the unknown. American dreams. No other country could produce a space shuttle. We should not stop launching them, if only for that reason. But further still, NASA provides an outlet for dreaming the impossible, and making it reality.
Imagine if one day on that playground, a little boy asks his teacher, “what’s a ‘space shuttle’?”