This is a sad week historically, but an interesting week for me to start my blog about space exploration. Failure is a part of every challenge we face as a species. The first humans to build a fire surely burnt themselves a few times. Eventually, as our civilizations grew in their own separate ways, we found more gruesome ways to kill ourselves, but always for a reason… we are curious. We want to go further, reach higher, travel deeper, further than anybody else. We learned from this tragedy and the tragedies before and after it, and have found safer and better ways to get people into space. I worry, however, that in America we seem to be giving up, growing cynical and decadent. Meanwhile, Indians, Chinese (and, hell, even the Russians) are continuing to take reality seriously – unlike most Americans. And you know what? Good for them. It’s obvious that the next role for the ESA and NASA to play is that of coalition builder, partnership organizer, but nobody (on the whole planet, but especially in the “Big Powers”) seems to want that. Everybody is very “mine mine mine” nobody, except the impotent UN, talks about “ours ours ours” and do you know what that selfishness – even when its the selfishness of entire nations – leads to? Death. I hate to be so blunt, but where else can it lead? Are we to sit back, resting on our laurels as an entertainment empire, wondering what Britney and Katy and the other girl are doing this week, all the while joking about how our children are doing worse in science, mathematics, and reading. Believe me, these things are not unrelated. A society that sees itself in an uncertain light, or that can’t take itself at least a little bit seriously, cannot be destined for greatness. We’ve got a lot of serious problems in this country, and one of those problems is a lot of worrying about the here and now, and not thinking about the far and wide. I’ve seen the generation younger than me legitimately concerned about climate change, and I think that’s hopeful. But, doesn’t that sweet sentiment go away with time? Was I so hopeful about the environment as a teenager? Maybe I was. I remember adopting a highway (Landfill waste and recycling programs was the Issues of the day back in my high school days), but did I do it because I was saving the earth or because I wanted to go to a good college for free? I have a strange feeling, based on my own piss-poor undergraduate education, that there’s a lot of kids who have high hopes, call them idealists if you must, who get smashed apart not by the reality of the “real world” but by conservative posers floating around most college campuses (in the form of evangelical/religious clubs, frats and sororities, and other politically conservative groups) to extinguish legitimate skepticism. The whole ruse, of course, is that it’s designed to help conservative ideologies maintain power by discouraging free thinking and encourage skepticism of science and other evidence-based disciplines, such as journalism. This is part of a longer theme, and I’ve already diverted too much. I suffice to say that I think that if we don’t lead the way in a legitimate move toward a coaltion we – as in Americans – are going to be saying “Bye bye” to our fellow man as they spread their vision of humanity on the galaxy without us.