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Monday, May 28, 2012

Exciting Times


     History was made last week. What? You didn't notice? With the deluge of information that swamps us every minute of every day, I'm not surprised.

     So what momentous event happened? A commercial spacecraft rendezvoused with the International Space Station. Dragon, a craft built and launched by a private company, SpaceX, carried food, clothes and other supplies to the astronauts currently living and working on the station. Before this event, only major governments sent cargo to the ISS. With this success, the way is open to a new era in space travel.

     As you know from previous posts here, I'm enthralled by space travel. While some authors wax nostalgic about the days of old when courageous men and women explored and settled the American West, I look forward to exploration beyond the confines of Earth. My stories take the reader into what, hopefully, is our future.

     Last fall, I was really bummed by NASA's ending the shuttle program. I should have realized that American entrepreneurs would take over. Visionary billionaires who made their money in other industries like technology, commerce and the arts are filling the void left by a government that can no longer afford what some think of as extravagance. Of course, the new adventurers didn't built spacecraft overnight. Their projects have been in the works for years. Only now that the government has gotten out of the way is good, old American ingenuity and sense of adventure propelling us forward. Halleluiah and amen. In the not-too-distant future, these private companies will not just send cargo into space but passengers. (Gee, do you think they'll charge extra for a window seat or to sit next to your spouse?)

     When my mother-in-law passed away at age 102, I marveled at the innovations in travel during her lifetime—from horse-drawn vehicles to landing on the moon. As exciting as watching the moon landing was for me, it happened over fifty years ago. And while I know we are still taking baby steps in our efforts to go beyond our own world, I'm in a hurry. I want to see us venture farther, to "boldly go where no one has gone before" before I die. This latest event is a start.

     On a side note, along with launching the cargo-carrying Dragon, the SpaceX rocket also carried the cremains of 320 people, including James Doohan, the actor who played Scottie on Star Trek. Scottie was always my favorite. In fact, he was my inspiration for a secondary character in Switched, a character who continues through the next two books. Though Mr. Doohan died in 2005, he finally got his wish. Last Thursday, it was his turn to be "beamed" up for a final adventure.

9 comments:

  1. I, too, was bummed about NASA discontinuing the shuttle program. The private endeavors excite me and give me hope. And I loved it that Scotty got his wish. He was my favorite, also! It is sad, though, that only those with a great deal of money will ever go into space in our lifetimes. I have hopes that one day there will be opportunity for those not among the privileged few to be able to use hard work and study to earn a place among the stars.

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    1. I think it will happen. Just as airplane travel was once for the privileged (becoming that way again, I fear), technology will advance to the point that travel to installations on the moon or Mars and beyond will be commonplace. Not in my lifetime, I'm sure. Maybe for our grandchildren?

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  2. Diane - Enjoying your blogs. In spite of writing only American history, I have always been fascinated by the mysteries of that world beyond our tiny little earth. I am one of those nuts who believes in life on other planets and extra-terrestrial visitors. There is so much "out there" we know nothing about, and who says we are the only planet with life on it or that we are the only human life God created?

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    1. I totally agree. I often think about a line from the movie "Contact", if we're the only ones wouldn't it be a waste of space?

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  3. Fascinating blog, Dian. Your knowledge of all things "spacey" is awesome. I never followed Star Trek adventures except through my kids (which clues you in on my age) but I really enjoyed SWITCHED and look forward to reading SWITCHED II.
    Do you think there'll be any cowboys on those planets you write about? Space rodeos, maybe, or space dude ranches? Think of the possibilities. Maybe someone will see those Ghost Riders In The Sky - the ones in the song. You never can tell.

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  4. Thanks, Loralee. My knowledge is a drop in the bucket (as my mom would say) compared to others. Cowboys & rodeos on other planets? Why not? LOL at your mention of the song.
    Vaughn Monroe. I remember the 1st time I heard it on the car radio drifting off to sleep squished in the backseat between my brothers and sister on our way home from Grandpa's farm. Wow. What a memory. Now why can't I remember where I put my keys?

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  5. Awesome post, Diane! I thought of you and Annette when I heard about the space story and the dragon. Very cool!

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  6. Thanks, Teresa. When I read those newspaper and Internet articles, I kept thinking of Buzz Lightyear's immortal words: "To infinity and beyond."

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  7. I live in Huntsville, Al. NASA is a large economic bastion in the area. I love the way you set me up to want to read more. The change in technology for me have been rapid. I no longer type on a computer and have a phone that I use for everything except a phone.

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