Monday, March 10, 2008

A Plea to Senator Obama

Look up, Senator Obama.

We, as a species, have ascended from microbes in the ocean, onto the firmament at our feet, to the tops of sky-scrapers, past the airplanes above us, into the vast expanses of space, and even to the surface of our own Luna. The human mind has constantly dreamed of advancing into the unknown. Do not, Mr. Obama, take that dream from us.

I, just like many of your supporters, am of the Space Shuttle generation. The idea of accelerating to the heavens in a mere capsule seems outdated and backward. The Challenger explosion, for many of us, was simply a paragraph in a grammar school history book, whereas the Columbia disaster signified the beginning of the end of the Shuttles' lifespan. Every other launch was publicized for 2 minutes on the local news while we were at basketball or band practice. The collective dream of spaceflight has become muddled and unattractive.

Some of us, however, never lost the dream, the hope of one day reaching the stars. We are the next generation of astronauts, engineers, technicians, and supporters of a truly radical idea: that we, a race of bipeds, could possibly set foot that shimmering speck above us known as Mars. Such an incredible goal is entirely within our generation's reach. Imagine the wonder of someone born before the famous flight at Kitty Hawk upon learning of John Glenn's voyage. Now imagine the disappointment of one born in 1973 who will not see a lunar landing until he or she lives more than a half of a century. Fifty years, Senator Obama, is not an acceptable respite from a project as monumental as this.

Through my years of education and training, I have come to be an aerospace engineer. I did this not because our society lauded such a profession. No, I chose this path because it was my dream. I was teased and tortured in school simply because I was smart. I was ostracized and ignored because I would rather build a model rocket than light a bottle rocket. Yes, this country can use a boost in education, but without a poster of a space-walking astronaut hanging in their bedrooms, the children of America will inadvertently undermine your investment in them.

So I ask you, Senator Obama, as you continue your campaign for the presidency, to consider the ramifications of one of your lesser-known policies. While improving education is important, it is a fruitless endeavor when at the cost of the manned space program. We do not dream of sending robots to other worlds, much like we do not dream of automating the removal of a brain tumor. We relish in the idea of humanity triumphing in the face of tremendous odds. We need astronauts and rocket scientists, Senator. It does not take a brain surgeon to understand this.

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