I want to invest in space

Let's not relinguish our leadership in space

By Jim Van Meerten May 18, 2010 1:25PM
The announcement that the Obama administration is winding down the U.S. space program for budgetary reasons is one of the saddest announcements that any boomer can hear.

When I was a child, my heroes were Buck Rodgers, Flash Gordon, the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers and of course Chuck Yeager, Alan Shepard and John Glenn. They all were so real yet unreal to me.

One of my most proudest possessions was a model of the X-15 I built with my own hands. It was a simple time when TV was not 24 hours a day and signed off every night with videos of Air Force jets flying high in the clouds and the words of High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, Jr:

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there, I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace where never lark, or ever eagle flew —And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod the high untrespassed sanctity of space, put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

I could then go to sleep knowing that my superheroes and God were there to protect me.

When President Kennedy announced that we were behind in our space program but going to beat the Russians to the moon, I bought a slide ruler and learned how to use it. To m,e running out in the school yard at Everglades Junior High hoping to see the rocket exhaust of Alan Shepard and John Glenn hurling toward space was better than a ticket to the World Series. One of my most precious memories was sitting with my son on Cocoa Beach and watching a Space Shuttle night launch.

But your children might not have these memories unless you travel to Japan, China, India or maybe North Korea.

Today the Japanese are going to launch a solar powered space yacht called Ikoros - Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun - almost spelled like Icarus whose wax and feather wings melted when he flew too close to the Sun. I think it will fly on power from the light in space sort of like that little vacuum globe with the black and white squares we all had in science class that started spinning when we put it next to the window at school.

President Obama, we are falling behind in the quest for knowledge again. Please give the boomers back our pride. We want history to remember us as the leaders in technology and space exploration not the greatest military power in history. As Shakespeare wrote:

"The evil men do lives after them;
the good is oft interred with their bones."

What will our legacy be?

Jim Van Meerten is an investor, boomer and lover of NASA who writes on financial matters on Financial Tides. Please leave a comment below or email JimVanMeerten@gmail.com
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