The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports


July 21, 2009

Exploration of space more vital than ever

Forty years after the world watched Neil Armstrong take those historic first steps on the moon, space exploration has never been more important.

I’m too young to remember the space race or the long-awaited, much-hyped moon landing on July 20, 1969.

But, as a kid growing up in the ’70s, I experienced the afterglow. In the wake of that one giant leap, there was a sense of excitement and optimism about where we could go and what we might discover.

I was captivated by the idea of space, both real and fictional.

I saw “Star Wars” and wondered if people would be zooming around in spaceships in my lifetime. The summer I was 9, I clipped photos taken by the Pioneer and Voyager probes of Jupiter and Saturn out of Time magazine and glued them onto typing paper to make my own space book. I watched “Star Trek” re-runs with my dad and imagined myself beaming from place to place.

Three decades later, I’m still imagining. Though we haven’t been back to the moon since December 1972, we’ve accomplished some pretty amazing things through the space program, starting with the transition from Cold War rivalry to today’s International Space Station, where astronauts and cosmonauts not only co-exist but collaborate on projects that once existed only in science fiction books.

In our daily lives, Americans have benefited tremendously from technology developed for the space industry. Think of the cell phones, satellite radio and GPS gadgets that we use every day, or the live TV broadcasts from around the world that we take for granted.

None of this would be possible if we didn’t have the technology to launch satellites and keep them in orbit.

Satellite remote sensing technology also helps fishermen locate fish and firefighters find and map forest fires.

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