Giving up on the final frontier

I’ve always had a thing for space. The recent retiring of the NASA shuttles reminded me of this. I’m not sure what it is that I like about space, but it’s likely that it scares me.

I’ve always had a thing for space. The recent retiring of the NASA shuttles reminded me of this. I’m not sure what it is that I like about space, but it’s likely that it scares me.

I imagine myself walking in space, wearing a space suit, far above the Earth, floating along.

Suddenly a baseball or some other object at high velocity, cast into space from exploration or space sporting event, punctures the space suit.

There is all kinds of junk flying over the atmosphere. But that’s not even that scary.

What’s really scary in space is the thought of floating in your spacesuit, in the middle of nowhere, waiting for the last of your oxygen to run out.

I remember this is what I thought of when I first watched the video of Joseph Kittinger’s ascent into space by high-altitude balloon in 1960.

Dressed in a pressurized suit, Kittinger climbed 31 kilometres above the earth.

Then, to descend, he jumped, parachute strapped to his back.

It would have probably been comforting for him to know that when he jumped, he would fall and not go into orbit, something that was questionable at that time and that altitude.

Luckily, he did fall, for four and a half minutes, and made it back to earth. You can watch the video on YouTube. I highly recommend it.

Now that the NASA shuttle program is shut down and funding for exploration has dried up, there isn’t really much to get excited about in the way of space.

The futuristic spaceships look a lot like the ones from the 70s; maybe they’re more fuel-efficient?

Space exploration has been replaced by the need to send mobile phone satellites into orbit so that the screen of your phone can be full of connection bars.

We’ve changed our status from active explorers to passive viewers in terms of space.

Like if Christopher Columbus had decided that, after leaving Spain, his compass was a little broken so he’d be better off just sailing to Malta and chilling out there.

He gets to Sardinia instead, proclaims it Malta and no one ever finds out about North America.

That’s where I feel we are with space; on the first step of a long journey that we’ve already given up on.

– Arne Petryshen is a reporter for the Grand Forks Gazette