Today a rover is enroute to Mars and it’s uncertain whether it will be a win or not a win; and this reminds me of what beats in the hearts of Olympians: It’s about going. It’s about risking. It sure as heck isn’t about the fame. Winning is the sidebar, not the story.
If no one went into space, hmm, let’s see, here are is a very short list of things that would be the state of things today:
1. The Statue of Liberty would be in crumble-mode because it didn’t have the coating, originally designed to coat the shuttle launch site, that saved this big lady from demise.
2. Firefighters would not have the advanced, flame-resistant suits they wear today.
3. Wildfires would be far, far, worse because the advanced imaging techniques that locate, track an even predict outbreaks wouldn’t be there.
4. The mobile robots that help United States troops clear caves and bunkers remotely in treacherous locations wouldn’t be clear. They would still be there, uncleared and unsafe.
5. Emergency workers (fire trucks and ambulances) would not possess the communications that help them relay their arrival time, locate available water hoses or transmit to hospitals the vital signs of victims.
The list of good stuff is long, longer than most of us can imagine.
The voices of folks who think exploration is misguided are loud, louder than most of us can fathom.
The good that exploration does is greater, greater than most of us even dare to hope.