No Country For Brave Explorers

I was reading a news article the other day and unfortunately it was concerning yet more trouble in the Middle East. Israel did this. The Palestinians did that. Same ol’, same ol’. The world sits back and goes about its regular routine, while people are manipulated by governments, fingers are pointed, and neighbors are told not to trust one another.

And then…I came across a small article that was buried among ones with bigger pictures and better headlines. The article contained biographies of the U.S./Swedish astronaut, Russian cosmonaut, and the first-ever Emirati astronaut about to head off to the International Space Station.

That particular ensemble should be enough to inspire most Earthlings in the year 2019, but there was an added special something about this crew — the U.S./Swedish astronaut, Jessica Meir, is Jewish, and the Emirati astronaut, Hazzaa al-Mansoori, is Muslim.

Image credit: ESA/Luca Parmitano

And look at them. Just look at them on the crowded Space Station that has men and women, and people of different colors and backgrounds all working together. How could that be? Aren’t governments around the world constantly engaging in war and people doing terrible things to one another? Isn’t this what we are told?

But science crosses these boundaries. As a matter of fact, science often knows no boundaries.

A few days ago, The New York Times published an article about amazing recent discoveries involving black holes. While the science astounded me, I was at least as impressed with the reporting of how many different scientists and science stations around the world had cooperated to make these discoveries.

I am of course aware that I have written on a similar topic of cooperation previously. But can enough be said about different people across the planet working together when so many governments, including our own, are preaching unilateral behavior? I think not.

We are in an age of fantastic breakthroughs. And, of course all ages have had their share of discovery.

But we’re talking about space here, folks. Let’s not get jaded like so many in the general public have and just think that a rocket launch is a humdrum affair. Am I the only one who loves watching footage, as well as fictional recreations, of the many people working in mission control for each launch, just to support a handful of people being propelled into space?

I have never run across the statistics on this, but it always looks as if it could easily be 100 support personnel per astronaut being launched. It is probably much more than that.

Yet, people here on Earth break out in road rage when another driver doesn’t merge into their lane in a way they find agreeable.

Think about that…two people in one spot on Earth are willing to engage in verbal or physical abuse because they cannot agree on how to cooperate with one another, while elsewhere on the same blue planet, hundreds or thousands of people work together to support a few other people sitting atop a rocket full of highly volatile combinations of solid and liquid fuel.

Does the latter scenario not sound like something that should inspire us all? Isn’t that something we should all reach for?

I would like to extend a final thought. It can be assumed that each of you reading this has an interest in science and astronomy. Thus, if I were to mention that private companies have built reusable rockets, and that soon after a rocket is launched, that very same rocket re-lands itself and can be prepared for the next launch, all of you would say, yup, I’ve seen the videos and have read all about it.

I also will assume that if I mention such things as: there is a company that has created inflatable components that attach to the ISS and greatly expand the ISS at a fraction of the original cost of the Space Station, or that companies exist today that are attempting to find a way to make mining asteroids economically and technologically feasible, or preparation is underway to send people to Mars, that none of you would be surprised.

Well, here is what I would like all of you to do. Share this knowledge with someone else. Talk to friends, family, and colleagues about it. Let them know that there are people working together around the globe to better humanity.

Humanity is about hope. It is about real efforts and real results combined with facts, and a lot of imagination. It is up to us who are aware of these efforts to share it with those who are not.

As a member of the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York, I take great pride in helping to spread the word of science.

I ask that all of you join me in doing so.

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