Space and the Spirit of Adventure
Image Credit: NASA
We don’t always think of ourselves on a ‘frontier’ when we sit in an office. Working in a cubical or on a computer is often associated with a mundane job or a daily grind. But when you’re building spacecraft, even an ordinary day at the office is on the frontier. Earthrise is boldly going where no company has gone before. It takes a lot of guts to try and build a lunar lander. It takes a supreme amount of determination and it gives a supreme amount of pride. Although we’re not personally going to the distant reaches of space (many of us certainly would), we are creating the next generation of robotic explorer, and that is a grand adventure. It is a wonderful thing to take part in the culture of exploration; it gives a certain sense of identity, a sense of connection with the world and modern times.
Every generation has its culture of exploration. It is interesting to see how it progresses through time; Marco Polo and the caravans of Asia, the proud conquistadors and their explorations of the Americas, the golden age of archeology at the beginning of the 20th century. Now, however, we face an interesting challenge. With a sky full of satellites, the surface of Earth is tragically… explored. To go to a new place never seen by human eyes now requires either an impressive submarine or a very large rocket. The byproduct of this fact leaves the modern culture of exploration completely embroiled in space exploration.
Since the 1950’s, exploring the stars has captured the public’s imagination. In almost every aspect of society the space theme began to bleed in; Flash Gordon and Star Trek are the most prominent in this era. But space exploration began to infiltrate everyday life in more ways than most people realized. Names of fast food restaurants and food items began taking cosmic names, children’s shows began featuring episodes where the characters ventured into space, architecture started reflecting elements of the space age culture that blossomed in the 1950’s and ‘60s. Terms like ‘shoot for the stars’ or ‘you can become an astronaut one day’ became common in schools when inspiring children. When the Curiosity rover touched down on Mars in the 2012 London Olympics, the whole world watched, even joking that Curiosity had won a gold medal for ‘sticking’ the long jump. Many would even agree that they see space or space themes in some form or another almost every day.
Society has a fascination with space. It represents adventure, freedom, possibilities and achievement. The culture of exploration today rests firmly with the final frontier. We look to the stars to see our future and to dream of strange places and alien worlds. It is the motivation for a generation raised on a shrinking world. To hear the call to adventure is a wonderful thing; to be given the chance to work on a bold project like a lunar rover is the modern equivalent of signing on to a caravel bound for distant shores. In the future, colony missions and manned missions will become the shining embodiment of the human spirit of exploration and adventure. For now, Earthrise will continue towards the black frontier of the sky.