Next step for space travel should be support

Workers prepare the space shuttle Endeavour for its two–day trek to the California Science Center, Oct. 9, 2012. The orbiter has been stored in the United hangar at Los Angeles International Airport since its arrival. (Bryan Chan/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

By Courtney Boyer

The recent 30th anniversary of the Challenger disaster, which occurred January 28, 1986, brings to light the issues that the United States faces in space exploration today. The United States’ presence in space has always been a source of pride for U.S citizens, and is something to feel patriotic about. When United States Astronauts set foot on the moon for the first time in history on September 12, 1962, the entire country held it’s breath and watched. However, in recent years the United States space program has left much to be desired, and many people would love to have a stronger presence in space.

It’s not all bad news. NASA is still alive, and working on big projects. However, after the shutdown of the space shuttle in 2013, many Americans were disheartened with the future of Americans in space.

Since the last space shuttle launch in 2011, the shuttle has been retired, has not been put to use since and is planning to remain retired forever.

This is due to lack of funding needed to improve space shuttle technology that NASA knew was flawed, and the funding needed to revamp the shuttles was not in the U.S budget at the time. They hoped that retiring the space shuttle could pave the way for new advances in technology, however this has not yet been the case.

Back in 2003, a meteor exploded over Russia, killing many unsuspecting civilians. NASA was under criticism for the event because they did not detect the meteor, and NASA responded saying that the budget for the surveillance program was not approved.

Recently, NASA has been been working on a huge Space Launch system, that would allow human beings to be launched farther into space than ever before. However, the US Government Accountability office has said the space agency may be $400 million dollars short of being able to complete the project.

It seems as though NASA is severely underfunded in the United States.

Of course I realize that America has large issues at hand, and that funding NASA might not be at the top of the list. While this is the case, it is a shame that NASA does not have the financial or patriotic support that it once did.

Space travel had the capacity to expand hopes and dreams and make people believe that incredible things were possible. Children would often marvel at the fact that human beings actually traveled to space, and would someday dream of going themselves. Humans have always been fascinated by space travel, and this can be seen especially given the recent success of movies such as Interstellar, The Martian and Gravity to name a few.

Without the possibility of space travel, America is losing something that connects humanity with the outside atmosphere, and a source of pride for this country.

College students especially, being the next generation of leaders, can learn from the mistakes that this country has made in the past. There are a lot of brilliant minds at work in college, especially on this campus as the Aerospace Engineering program is flourishing and is teeming with possibilities. I look forward to the future of the space program and I believe that it is in good hands.

This generation could be the group of people who finally get it right. Our parents and grandparents remember when humans went to the moon, but that seems so long ago that people have lost sight of shooting for the stars. Perhaps this generation could be the generation that finally takes humans to Mars. However, this will not be possible if this country doesn’t back our dreams like they once did.

In a perfect world, money would not be an issue and human beings could learn, invent, explore and dream without being suppressed by lack of funding. I want to be around when this country’s space program once again becomes an object of envy and awe. I am not the only one who feels this way.

Kevin Burns, a sophomore studying Aerospace Engineering said that he was, “excited about the direction the space program is going in, but can’t wait for people to be sent back into space.” NASA is currently designing rockets that may have the capabilities of sending people to Mars, however, without the proper encouragement, this may never be a reality.

The technology is there and it is exciting. Everyday, more and more advances are made. I would love to see the dreams of the people who have dedicated their lives to space travel become a reality.

Courtney is a sophomore in LAS.

[email protected]