“Even though I am weary of most symbolic events, I could not resist going to the Jersey shore today to see a highly advertised last flight of the Space Shuttle Enterprise over the New York City. Probably every local media report on the event repeated a cliché about this “bitter-sweet” moment, even though nobody was able to explain well what the “sweet” part was. The weather was fittingly uncertain whether to celebrate or to mourn on this day, with sunlight trying hopelessly to break through grim and menacing low clouds.
As a stood there in the blistering wind, I remembered my time in the middle school in Moscow in 1978, when my father brought a hard-to-find issue of “Amerika” magazine with a cover photo of the Shuttle Enterprise sitting on top of a giant Boeing 747 basking in the evening sun in the California desert. The accompanying article promised the coming of the new era in space flight, exciting and inspiring for any teenager.
I could not imagine, of course, that the drama of space exploration would light up my entire life, and I could not guess that decades later, I will watch this incredible machine flying its last mission to become a museum piece. Like I was more than 30 years ago, most school kids who surrounded me on the banks of the Hudson River on this cool morning, were cheering and screaming with excitement, as the Enterprise flew magnificently right over our heads and slowly disappeared above the equally grand necklace of the Verrazano Bridge. However, I could not help but think that while I saw the image of this ship for the first time with the hope for a coming decade of exploration and expansion of humanity into the unknown, those kids had to witness the demise of this very hope, with nothing even closely comparable appearing on magazine covers.
I could not help but think about the history of space exploration and realize that in just several decades we went from John Kennedy’s “We go to the Moon and do other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard…” to Mit Romney’s “…If they wanted… a colony on the moon, I’d say, ‘You’re fired.””
April 27, 2012
Thanks Dad for inspiring me to curious about the whole universe. I’m still exploring!