America re-engages in the last frontier

July of 1969 was a life changing event in the lives of many school kids. We had done it!

Awe, wonder and pride describe the feelings of many of us young people who watched the Apollo 11 spaceflight and fuzzy, gray images from the moon in 1969.  Men, AMERICAN men, were WALKING ON THE MOON. As this event unfolded, Americans realized that nothing is impossible for our country collectively, and for each of us individually. 

Every time over the years since, while watching launches of the NASA Apollo and Space Shuttle programs, those same feelings resurface for me. But no more so than in the run up to this week’s manned SpaceX launch. Unfortunately, Wednesday’s launch had to be postponed to Saturday due to poor weather conditions.  As this newspaper is published prior to that launch, I am hoping it will come off without a hitch.

I am also hoping the American SpaceX launch will evoke that awe, wonder and pride in the younger generations of today. The moon launch in 1969 positively impacted many of those looking to future careers. Suddenly it became cool to want to learn how to advance our world. Of course most of us youngsters at the time decided to become astronauts, even if we couldn’t spell the word. But not everyone was suited to that career, and over time many gravitated to careers in science, math, engineering, and technology. From that momentous event came a myriad of advancements in all of those career fields making our lives better, safer, and with more opportunity. It also led to the NASA’s Space Shuttle program.

A private company, SpaceX and NASA make history with this launch of astronauts into space from U.S. soil for the first time since 2011. The mission is sending two Americans to dock with the International Space Station. They travel in a Crew Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket. Both the spacecraft and the rocket have been developed and test proven to be reusable. 

The corona virus has closed most schools across the country. As parents home school their kids, this NASA/SpaceX achievement provides a real teachable moment. Look what can be accomplished when people work hard and (literally) reach for the stars!

It also teaches us that huge success can be attained by combining the best of government with the best of the private sector. 

Evidence of the success of this same concept is apparent in the war against COVID 19, too. American private companies have stepped up to work with our government to provide the tools needed to fight this virus. In just a few months necessary medical gear has been manufactured and supplied, testing options have been developed and distributed, treatments are evolving, and multiple types of vaccines are advancing. Again, look at what people here can do when we focus together on fixing a problem and moving forward.

Similarly to the reverberations made by an exciting manned space launch, here’s hoping the all out response to attacking the corona virus will inspire many students to move toward careers that will advance medical research and practice in the future. That could be the silver lining in this disruptive time of pandemic.