HISTORY was made on Wednesday at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. This was not the launch of the first, or even the first private craft, to stir the coils that anchor humanity to this earthly world. It was also not the first time that humanity has looked to the stars, planets and satellites that are already within reach. For example, a recent very exciting discovery was made in July when Nasa’s Curiosity Rover discovered that ancient Mars had the right chemistry to support living microbes, thus giving new (and feverish) interest in interest. for space exploration. The moon landings seem, by comparison, old hat. What made the recent launch of a SpaceX rocket into Earth orbit truly remarkable is that this is the first “civilian” flight – because the crew on board is not made up of astronauts. This is accompanied by what one might call a “democratization” of kinds of space travel. The Inspiration4 capsule was occupied by American tech billionaire Jared Isaacman, geology professor Sian Proctor, medical assistant at Hayley Arceneaux hospital and engineer Chris Sembroski. The crew returned on Saturday.
It can be argued that “democratization” is a difficult term given the astronomical cost of this first private space flight. But as Mr. Isaacman read in his statement of thanks as the spacecraft soared nearly 200 km above Earth, it is a testament to the efforts of those who made possible a journey “to the gates of Earth. ‘an exciting and unexplored frontier where few have come before and many are about to follow ”. It should be remembered that barely half a century ago Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. Elon Musk’s company efforts go hand in hand with those of other companies such as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Boeing and several others, not to mention contributions from government-sponsored space exploration entities. In a world that unfortunately continues to be beset by war, disease and unspeakable misery, there is much hope to be gained from these outward looking efforts.
Posted in Dawn, September 20, 2021