Endeavor's Swan Song

Endeavor launched for its last mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Photo Credit

Monday, May 16, 2011, the space shuttle Endeavor left Earth for it's last mission, springing up from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in the early morning.

News channels broadcast the reports, and there were many mentions of it being Endeavor's last launch. The spacewalks planned are the last. Atlantis is scheduled for a launch June 28, but when Endeavor gets back, it will be grounded for good.

Propelling people and things into space is an expensive and dangerous operation, and I can understand that its risks and costs seem to outweigh the benefits when our nation itself is in so much debt. I understand the motivation behind it.

But I still don't like it.

Now, it doesn't mean the end of American space exploration. The hiatus is only supposed to be for about six years or so, and there have been blocks of inactivity before, and longer.

Also, there is a private company, SpaceX which has successfully launched a satellite and returned it safely to earth.  They won $75 million dollars from NASA as a part of the Commercial Crew Development initiative, which is to help private companies compete. The goal is to delegate some of the repair and maintenance work to private companies like this.

Let me diverge a bit here, because I love that idea. Like I mentioned before, spaceflight and exploration is dangerous and expensive, but it's also fascinating. It piques the imagination of kids and grown-ups alike. And I am glad that there are to be more channels to pursue space exploration than just through NASA.  Everyone knows that markets are improved by competition. Ideas are improved the same way. For us to move forward, we need the creativity and scientific prowess of many people, and the Commercial Crew Development initiative fosters that.

And that may be the best path for future space explorations. Because I have no doubt at all that they should continue. And I firmly believe that space exploration, travel, and experimentation should be a top priority on everyone's lists.

The next few days, I'll post my 4 reasons why space travel should be made a priority by governments, world leaders, private companies, engineers, scientists, and teachers. Follow my blog or follow me on Twitter @jajaamanda to be alerted to when the next one is up!

UPDATE: They are all up, and you can peruse them at your leisure here: 

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