The Johnson Space Centre is just starting to look at the samples that the recently-returned Stardust probe collected from comet detritus and random interstellar stuff. And they are very very pleased with what they have collected.
I was born in the late seventies, and so grew up in the Shuttle era. Hence I was an early space-freak…I’d badger my father to get his computer-engineer mates to lend him all their books on it, which were way above my head at the time, but I still lapped up the pictures and the big words. I was pretty convinced we’d be a lot further ahead than we actually are at the current date; this wasn’t just the naivete of youth, I think. Many adults seemed to think the same way (unless they were just humouring me). But then Challenger happened. I remember that day very clearly, as we were allowed to watch the live broadcast at the international school I was in at the time. I remember the shock, the silence, the incomprehension. (I have a poem about it – people who are interested can contact me for an emailed copy, I won’t subject the general public to my poetry without being asked!) That, I think, was when the previous era of space-dreaming died off in all but the scientists. There were other fish to fry as far as the governments were concerned.
But it seems to me we are re-entering (sorry) a period where people are starting to get excited about space again, and the Stardust mission is a good example. Space is back in the headlines for the the good reasons and not the negative ones. We’re learning great new things, we’re pushing the boundaries, we’re coming up with new inventions to make space exploration more viable. This, for me, is a good thing…as a futurist and SF geek, I’d love to see our race make it off-planet properly. Plus I think we don’t have much hope of longterm survival as a race if we don’t, but enough of my cynicism. All the resources and room to grow we could ever need are right here in our own solar system. So why don’t we stop fighting over a mudball we’ve already damaged badly, get out there and find a way to fix our mistakes and move on to the next phase of human existence? Earth-man is just the chrysalis…we need to break free, pump the wings full of the blood of invention and fly out as a new-borne creature - space-man.
Yes, I *am* a hippy. Deal with it.
Side note; posting has been slow here at VCTB lately thanks to my new assignment as blogger-of-tech-and-SF-news over at Futurismic.com, which is a great site and runs SF fiction as well as news and essays. So check it out – in return I promise to save something juicy for VCTB at least once every few days, or at least expand on something I post there for my (few) loyal readers. You people are so good, I refuse to subject you to adverts. Yet… 😉