Regaining our momentum in space

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The weekend brought a couple of reminders of how our attitudes have changed about space exploration.

One prompted images of just how much history we are losing as the prior generation of explorers leaves the earth.

The other shows possibilities for the future.

Gene Cernan died Monday at age 82, the last man to walk on the moon, and who spent years working to assure he wasn't the last American to follow his steps.

"When I leave this planet, I want to know where we are headed as a nation. That's my big goal," he said during congressional testimony in 2011.

Manning the command module on Cernan's Apollo 17 mission in 1972 was Ronald Evans, born in 1933 in St. Francis, Kan.

While only crewmate Harrison 'Jack' Schmitt remains alive to see it, another event should have been encouraging.

It received relatively little time on the national news, but thanks to Internet video streaming, people around the world were able to view a live launch of Space X's Falcon 9 rocket, delivery of 10 communications satellites into orbit, and the successful landing of the rocket's first stage on a barge in the Pacific Ocean.

While it wasn't a manned trip to Mars or another ambitious effort, the private launch and recovery were, indeed, a tribute to the sacrifice to space pioneers of the past and a sign progress will continue.

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