Burning the Ships

The Spawn is currently relaxing upstairs, a couple of days after having some wisdom teeth yanked. A note on how times have changed: She made her mother and me promise that we’d get some video of her when she was doped up, just in case there was a chance for YouTube gold. Such was not to be, however. Instead, she simply made little mewling noises and had to be assisted to bed. She’s coming along nicely, however.

“But that’s not what this song is about…”

In recent days, the Spawn has expressed an interest in an American return to space exploration, with an eye toward colonization. One of the final papers she wrote in my comp class was a proposal for a memorial to astronauts and cosmonauts who had died in the line of duty. (The memorial proposal is one the department has been using for a few years now, but this was actually the first such memorial I remember reading amidst a sea of memorials of mass shootings, victims of bullying, and the like.) She opened the paper with the Tsiolkovsky quote: “Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever.”

Over the weekend, she complained that our nation seems content to make the cradle a bit more comfortable. She looked at me accusingly: “You got to see men walk on the moon.”

Indeed I did. Several times, actually.”

“But we just… quit.”


She went on and said that we should be reaching toward the moon again, and Mars. I told her I agreed, and that while there might not be enough of us with the skill and the will to achieve this at the moment, there are still folks working on it. Still, she’s impatient, as am I.

Perhaps it’s all this that helped my notice of a recent statement from Buzz Aldrin. He believes that we should go to Mars as well — and that the first people there should go with the intention of staying:

Aldrin said: “I have considered whether a landing on Mars could be done by the private sector.

“It conflicts with my very strong idea, concept, conviction, that the first human beings to land on Mars should not come back to Earth.

“They should be the beginning of a build-up of a colony or settlement. I call it a permanence.”

He added: “To have an individual company, no matter how smart, send people to Mars and bring them back, it is very, very expensive. It delays the obtaining of permanence.”

He said that some people would call it a “suicide mission”, but he disagreed saying: “Not me! Not at all.”

I don’t necessarily agree with Mr. Aldrin’s contention that the permanent outpost makes it more a government project than a private one, but I’d love to see somebody do it.

When I was about thirty years younger, I said that I didn’t want to die on earth. Of course, I will — and there’s no shame in that, given that’s how damn near everybody has before me. Still, there’s the dream, and now I can hope that even after I’m not here to see it, that some bit of me, and of the Spawn, and of our descendants will embrace that promise.

The stars are cold, distant, and forbidding. But the cradle can be a prison, as well.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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3 Responses to Burning the Ships

  1. jeff1947 says:

    It always seemed like the main motivation for the put-a-man-in-space program was to prove that America was better than the Soviet Union, funny, since we ended up using a big central government program to attempt to show that capitalism is better than communism. I tend to agree with the following article in Electronic Design: http://electronicdesign.com/archive/man-space-ambition-whose-time-has-passed

  2. jeff1947 says:

    I’m happy to see practicality move down the priority list when a person or organization is spending its own money to innovate and explore, but the government should stick to the practical.when it’s spending its (our) money. Governments never handle creativity or innovation very well.. There are always too many multiple agendas, often hidden, being served, unrelated to the stated purpose.

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