Posted by: suek2001 | January 27, 2010

Let us never stop dreaming we will walk on the moon

I thought of this as I read the news today that Obama wants to cut the rocket program. I found this a few years ago and cut and pasted it into my old blog..Thought it was time it be read again..

Sue

I found an interesting column from the Houston Chronicle that I thought I would cut and paste here. it says it better than I ever could here.

We should still that we will walk on the moon..For when dreams die, life becomes a series of chores and rituals.

Jan. 27, 2006, 7:54PM
Mike Smith would insist we press ahead in space
Fallen Challenger pilot was a man who knew his mission
By JAKE GARN

Mike Smith was my Mother Hen.


When I was invited by NASA to fly aboard the space shuttle in 1985, I began a period of intense training to prepare for that flight. Astronaut Mike Smith was assigned to guide me through that process, even as he was preparing for his own mission the following year.
Patient, knowledgeable, extremely intelligent, unassuming and good-hearted, Mike was the perfect mentor, or “Mother Hen,” and he helped make that experience as meaningful and enjoyable as anything I have ever done.

The space shuttle Discovery lifted off on our mission on April 12, 1985 — the same day in 1961 that saw Yuri Gagarin had become the first human in space, and the same day that would see Columbia launched on the first flight of the shuttle era in 1981. After my week-long flight, Mike was involved in our mission debriefing, and delighted in hearing details of that incredible experience, and preparing to apply them to his upcoming flight, as pilot of the STS 51-L mission aboard the Challenger.

He looked forward eagerly to his mission, and to furthering the cause of space exploration he believed in so deeply. He had invited me to join the crew at their traditional pre-launch breakfast the morning of their initial scheduled launch. But when the launch was scrubbed due to threatening weather, I had to return to Washington, so was unable to be there for the launch two days later.

But I am certain Mike felt he was at the peak of his life’s experience as he and his crew rose into the frigid morning sky on Jan. 28, 1986. That moment of triumph became a national tragedy. America, and the world, lost seven heroes when Challenger was destroyed. I lost friends and colleagues, and the families of the crew lost cherished loved ones.
Within a few hours, Sen. John Glenn and I accompanied then Vice President Bush to the Kennedy Space Center, to meet with the families of the Challenger crew, representing President Reagan. We went there to offer them whatever comfort and strength we could. But it was the collective courage and strength of the families that was the real message from that meeting.

Despite the deep pain and sadness at their loss, I will never forget June Scobee, the wife of Challenger Commander Dick Scobee, standing there and speaking for all of the families, telling us that the most important thing we could do for them was to make sure the mission of exploration would continue; that the dream of their loved ones would stay alive.

We came away from that meeting deeply and profoundly moved, and determined to see that the Challenger mission and the nation’s voyage of exploration, scientific discovery and engineering excellence would continue.
Later that year, as chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funded NASA, I made certain that Challenger’s replacement shuttle, the Endeavour, was fully funded. It joined its sister ships Columbia, Discovery and Atlantis to continue America’s quest to explore the unknown.

What have we learned from the losses of Challenger and Columbia?

We have learned again that great undertakings contain great risks. And we have learned that we must always learn everything we can from failures and mistakes to make spaceflight safer — something we can never stop trying to do.
We have learned much about how the shuttle operates in flight; learned to redesign its systems and capabilities. Perhaps most importantly of all, we have learned how to live and work in space; one day, one flight, one mission at a time.

The legacies of Challenger and Columbia are important parts of the foundation upon which every other journey into space will build.

The risks associated with space exploration are not unique to the shuttle. During the Mercury program, astronaut Gordon Cooper had to re-enter the atmosphere using only his eyesight to line up his capsule correctly; his automatic systems had all failed by the end of his 22-orbit flight. In Gemini, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Dave Scott were only minutes from unconsciousness when they took control of their spacecraft, which had begun spinning wildly because of a jammed rocket thruster. The crew of Apollo 1 was killed on a launch pad fire 40 years ago next January, and the astronauts of Apollo 13 flew a perilous mission back to Earth when their oxygen tank exploded.

We can only completely avoid such risks by staying home. But spacecraft, like ships, are not built to lie in safe harbor, but to carry our quest for science and discovery into the unknown. Every crew member aboard every spacecraft that has ever flown was a volunteer, who knew the risks and accepted them because they believed in that quest. We can best honor the memory, and the legacy, of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in space exploration not by retreating from the space frontier, but by continuing their journey.

President Ronald Reagan once said: “The American people would rather reach for the stars, than reach for an excuse as to why they shouldn’t.”

Those who call for retreat from the space frontier can stay behind if they like. The rest of America is indeed headed for the stars.

——- Garn, who retired as a U.S. senator from Utah in 1993,
is a self-employed consultant in Salt Lake City.

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