Tuesday, January 01, 2013
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration came into being during my lifetime. Now after many decades their mission has significantly changed. NASA's memory book for 2012 becomes especially meaningful as we begin the new year of 2013. Future manned space flight is evolving into the commercial realm while the future of scientific space exploration will have NASA focusing on unmanned flights from our shores.
My interest in the possibilities of space exploration began as a young woman with NASA's forerunner, Project Vanguard, which initiated unmanned space flights. The potential space travel prospects became much more real and personal to me when a family member became involved in that Project, eventually manning the Quito, Ecuador, S.A. tracking station, one of several strategically placed around the world.
Subsequent years NASA formed, then developed manned space flight. The nation's interest increased as did mine. I was especially attracted by the fact that two prominent astronauts, John Glenn, later Neil Armstrong, were from my then home state of Ohio -- communities nearby my own. I remember well the tension, anxiety for their safety and the excitement viewing all televised space launches -- then astronauts returning in capsules to the ocean initially, eventually in shuttles to earth.
There were tragic losses of astronauts lives reminding us of the dangers associated with travel into this new space frontier. Our astronauts have been daring courageous explorers supported by many vital capable technical scientists whose names with which we have little familiarity. Unlike our nations early explorers who could venture across our unknown lands relatively independently, space exploration success depends on teams of highly trained knowledgeable individuals able to work together as a unit dedicated to a unified goal.
Many years later in 2012 the final space shuttle, Endeavour, has been retired with much nostalgia and fanfare to Southern California. We've been privileged to live in exciting times that future generations will learn about as history. I look forward with great curiosity to the future, as 2013 begins.
Happy New Year wishes to you !