Last week, my family went to the California Science Center to see the space shuttle Endeavour and to wander through the exhibit, Journey to Space. It was one of the things my son wanted to do during his winter vacation, and even though it involved a lot of walking and standing for me (which translates into a lot of pain), I was happy to go. I’m just as captivated by the space shuttle as my son. (In fact, I wrote about one of our visits to Endeavour on my previous blog. Here’s the link in case you missed it: http://wendykennar.blogspot.com/2014/04/awestruck.html)
This time, I was no less awestruck than I was then. In fact, I just keep thinking about why I have such a powerful, spiritual, reverential experience when I visit the space shuttle. And, here’s what I’ve come up with.
- It is still benefitting us. Things we commonly use today were invented, or refined, for human spaceflight. (Velcro). Things we rely on today are possible because of our trips into space. (GPS – Global Positioning System). Things we have come to regularly expect are achievable because we have ventured into space. (Detailed and specific weather predictions).
- It shows us that cooperation is powerful. The space shuttle was not the result of one person’s master plan. It required feedback and input from a variety of individuals and corporations. It couldn’t have been designed, and constructed, had not all the involved parties figured out some way of working together to create something bigger than any one of them.
- It speaks to our innate curiosity. Human beings have a desire to explore, to learn, to see what they have not seen before. Human space flight, in my opinion, has been the way we have attempted to better understand our planet and our place within a much larger context.
- It represents the best of humankind. The space shuttle represents the best qualities of our species. Our intelligence, our creativity, our ingenuity, our determination, our persistence, our inventiveness, our hunger for knowledge.
- It’s hopeful. Because the space shuttle is a physical representation of the best of humankind, I see it as a symbol of possibility and hope. Sometimes it seems as if some of the inhabitants on our planet are setting us up for doom, despair, and destruction. (It’s the reason why I can’t watch the nightly news before bed). But then I see the space shuttle. And I see goodness. I see positivity. I see possibility.