A nation of explorers must explore

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 15, 2014

As I left the office on Thursday, there was a full moon in the sky beaming down at me.

That morning, I had gone to the Infinity center outside the gates of Stennis Space Center to cover the center director’s update for area community leaders.

Seeing the moon on the heels of writing the story about the meeting brought to mind all of the steps this nation has taken in space exploration. I say “all,” that should be “most.” We have done so much that “all” is a relative term.

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I remember when Alan Sheppard blasted off and was disappointed that NASA wouldn’t allow him to orbit Earth. I was so happy when John Glenn did orbit the Earth.

More astronauts followed and then there was the first space walk by Edward White in which he was tethered to the spacecraft. His walk came shortly after a Soviet cosmonaut walked in space. The Soviets were a step ahead of us at that point

The pace of space exploration was rapid back then, right up until Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon in July of 1969.

Since then, even with the space shuttle, the pace has appeared to slow.

But has it really? There has been the Hubbard Space Telescope that has opened up more of space to astronomers. There is the International Space Station. There are the robots walking on Mars.

The list goes on and on, but there hasn’t been anything as spectacular as the first orbit of Earth or a moon landing, but this nation, founded on then distant shores found by explorers, and explored by those who settled it, will continue to explore.

That was made clear at the Infinity meeting. Now, though, we are preparing to go into deep space, that area beyond the moon.

I can’t wait to see what we will find.