Space Shuttle Atlantis

Space Shuttle Atlantis

The space shuttle Atlantis has lifted off the launch pad, marking the last Space Shuttle Mission for NASA.  This shuttle, like many before it, will be carrying experiments – including those from the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, a project of Tides.  Tides provides the NCESSE with expert management strategies and tools to open the world of science to as many students as possible.

I am always in awe when I consider our space program at NASA.  It strikes me as the culmination of our collective human vision – to imagine that we could touch the moon and stars – and then to go out and make that vision reality, is amazing and humbling indeed.

In 1961, John F. Kennedy told a joint session of Congress that we would put a man on the moon within the decade.  Although the words from his 1962 speech are the ones that conjur power of this moment:

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

I recall being at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida where I learned that once President Kennedy made these declarations, 30,000 Americans: engineers, scientists, administrators, factory workers, janitors, and all manner and means of support staff went to work to manifest that idea.   The Space Shuttle Program makes me reflect on the serious challenges that we face in today’s society and the power we have when we set an ambitious goal and work together.

If we, in all our human arrogance and ambition can launch ourselves into space, there shouldn’t be anything we can’t do.