“Are you happy or sad the Space Shuttle is finished?”
This is not something I would ever have dreamed I would say, but — I’m happy. So happy.
Probably most of my readers are more or less in my generation, so like me, they recall the initial excitement of the Space Age: New worlds to conquer, new explorations to undertake, new life forms to discover…whatever your notions about the future, the Space Program promised to deliver. Star Trek got its start in this atmosphere. So did all the sci-fi and fantasy fixations that now abound.
Back to earth, people. At the beginning of the space program, gasoline was .33 per gallon. That’s thirty-three cents. (And come to think of it, gas may have been even cheaper — I wasn’t driving back in 1961.) It’s now more than ten times that amount, and while my husband’s salary has kept pace, more or less, with inflation, it’s nowhere near ten times what he was making forty years ago.
In 1961, we weren’t even thinking about the effects of Progress on the environment. Whiter Whites and Brighter Brights ruled daytime television, and never mind the phosphates that were added to detergents to achieve those miraculous effects. “Better Living Through Chemistry” was the slogan of the day, and we could afford it: Bhopal (remember Bhopal?) was decades off — and protesters against nuclear fission were just a handful of nut-hatch cranks.
So, um, can anybody explain to me why we have allowed this program to go forward, even past the Earth-Day/environmentalist revival?? Where was Al Gore while we were blasting off over the past 20 or 30 years? (Yeah, I know he was inventing the internet, but besides that.) I mean, anybody who got the Nobel Prize for whatever it was to do with environmentalism should have been shooting off his mouth about air pollution from rocket launches, no?
I guess not. I haven’t heard a peep out of anybody on the subject. Not Al Gore, not the news media, not my contemporaries, and certainly not NASA, not that I blame them — like the ubiquitous cancer research, it’s a living, and nobody who stands to earn a buck off a questionable procedure is going to shoot himself in the foot by raising ethical dilemmas.
But me, all I have to gain from it is a cleaner planet. So I’ll say it again: I am so glad the space-shuttle program is now history. Now, please excuse me: The Sy-Fy Channel is hosting a Star Trek marathon week, and I have to see what Jean-Luc is up to.