Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Class of 2009... Goin' to the Moon

Inspired by a tremendous Minnetonka, MN Class of 2009 Commencement Ceremony last evening, I came across this transcript this morning. It's the oft-quoted speech that John F. Kennedy gave at Rice University in September of 1962, announcing our country's decision to go to the moon.

In case you can't reach the link, the fifteenth paragraph goes like this:

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon... [interrupted by applause] we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

Several outstanding young men and women spoke last evening at the Minnetonka commencement and, to a person, what you just read is what they said. Oh, they may not have used the same words (although one faculty speaker discussed the "Ten Year Race" to one's dreams and ambitions that begins with high school commencement). In fact, by my recollection, not one student even mentioned the Moon. But there wasn't any doubt. Each and every one of them said the very same thing, nearly 47 years after President Kennedy spoke with the same ambition, the same spirit, the same fire, the same brashness, indeed, the very same impetuousness.

My faith in our future was shored up big time last night. Perhaps you can see why...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Comment on the Hubble Telescope

Well, the shuttle Atlantis screams skyward tomorrow for one last mission to the Hubble. If you'd do me a little favor, at 1:01pm CDT tomorrow, stop whatever you're doing for a minute or two, say a little prayer, look up, and pump your fist a couple of times, because that's when they hit the LOUD button down there at Kennedy.

Frankly, for my money they could fold the tent on Hubble right now... if - IF - Atlantis would just pluck it out of orbit, pack it up, and bring it home to hang in the Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum. The Hubble is a cultural and scientific icon of the highest order. The HIGHEST order. Not only has it sent back images far in excess of expectations, the damn thing was broke when it went up. Unfixable. A blurry, unfixable, screw-up of a white elephant. A laughing stock if there ever was one from our scientific community.

So what did NASA do?

They fixed it.

They sent Story Musgrave up to fix the thing so it could become something that, 500 years from now, will be mentioned in the same breath with Galileo. Musgrave should have his statue right beside Neil Armstrong, the crew of Apollo 13, and the crews of Challenger and Columbia - hell, they should print his face on money - for what he accomplished on the spacewalks he took.

Wish I had the energy... I'd start a grass roots campaign to bring it home.