When I was a kid, I was part of the Star Trek generation. Well, actually the generation that saw “Star Trek, The Original Series”, really take off in its first set of reruns in the early 1970’s. I remember thinking, in the early 1970’s just how far away the year 2000 was and thinking “Wow, I’ll be 36 years old in 2000. That’s old. And we’ll have starships like the Enterprise then”.
It was September 17, 1976 when OV-101, the Space Shuttle Enterprise was rolled out by NASA. How cool was it that the first test shuttle off the line was named after the Enterprise? Pretty cool for me. This Enterprise never went into space. She was only used for the original glide testing. She was a pioneer, nonetheless.
My love for science fiction never waned over the years. I like it all. All of the Start Treks, Star Wars, Stargates, Battlestar Galacticas, and Firefly. The idea of traveling the galaxy is so appealing that I can’t help but getting sucked into it.
It’s 2014 and NASA’s Space Shuttle program has been mothballed, retired, whatever you want to call it. I was wounded when it happened and we didn’t have a replacement. But one thing that is happening that is interesting and exciting is that guys like Richard Branson and Elon Musk are using their billions to continue to push space exploration. I read this article by Richard Branson today and it excited me all over again. If it can be done, these guys will do it. If I had to do it all over again, I’d work hard to get a job with Virgin Galactic or SpaceX so that I could be a part of this amazing space adventure.
I have to admit, I am a little concerned about the commercialization of space travel. I am afraid that the first viable space travel for the common folk will be a doubledecker tour bus that shoots out around the moon and back. “Coming up on the left is the Sea of Tranquility and ahead we’ll see the construction beginning on the new George Jetson Space Burger Fly-In Restaurant, which will be run by McDonald’s”. There are a lot of examples of big business ruining cool things.
Regardless of how it turns out, and I imagine it’ll be after I have moved on to a different and more final frontier, the idea of space travel will continue to enthrall and inspire the young and old. The idea that billionaires are using their billions to foster a spirit of exploration is one of the most inspiring things to me. Elon Musk inspires me daily with the projects he takes on. Each cooler than the next, and each seeking to make the world a better and more sustainable place. I like to think that when I make my billions, this is how I will choose to spend them too.
In the article, Richard Branson says “This inquisitiveness is a healthy thing, and leads to new innovations. Only through exploration of the unknown can we continue to grow and evolve.”
I hope that generations in the future, when space travel is viable, whoever is in charge of naming starships remembers to name one the USS Elon Musk and another the USS Richard Branson to acknowledge their contributions to space travel. They are true pioneers that keep reaching for things that are well beyond their grasp. Go big or stay home, right? That is incredibly inspiring to me. I wonder what their parents did to encourage them. Find your inspiration, and inspire others, particularly your kids.