We seem to have forgotten that exploration has always been part of our culture. I am not just referring to the American idea of Manifest Destiny, but to humanity as a whole. There has not been a culture in existence that hasn’t strived to see more, and go farther than the boarders of what is known. It is in our blood, our DNA, that we need to discover. Like Magellan, Drake and Columbus we all feel a pull to see what is just beyond the horizon. This of course does not just pertain to the physical world, but to every aspect of life. Humans have always been filled with a curiosity, be it about our surroundings or our subconscious, or even about our spiritual beliefs. We have always strived to learn more than we know, see more than we have seen and go where we have never been.
In the 60’s NASA was the embodiment of this curiosity and spirit of exploration. An opportunity to finally see what lies amongst the stars that the human race has been staring at and wondering about for thousands of years. Many people will claim that it was the race against the Russians that spurred the interest, support and love for the program and those brave souls that ventured into the unknown. Yet it was Ronald Reagan that once defined the most modern of explores as “… daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, “Give me a challenge, and I’ll meet it with joy.” They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths.” These were and are men and women driven by more than a cold war with the former USSR. These are the men and women that we should idolize, those that we should look up to as we grow up.
I can only speak for myself when I say that it has always been a dream of mine to walk on ground that has never been seen or stepped upon before. Though usually this dream of being an explorer manifested itself as a desire to be part of scientific expedition of some kind. For my generation, and most likely more generations to come, actual and physical exploration is going to be nothing more than a fleeting hope for us. With cuts to space programs it is very unlikely that we will be returning to the Moon, or going to Mars, or the moons of Jupiter or Saturn. For these future generations exploration will most likely come from the subatomic levels and the sciences in general. The next round of big discoveries will be in subatomic particles, wormholes, new molecules and elements and possibly venturing to the depths of the ocean in search for something other than oil.
With the world well explored by the names we all know, and the satellites the circle us hourly, there is little left for man to explore on this world. With NASA and the rest of the space agencies losing funding and interest in favor of profits and fame; there seems to be little hope left for exploration of the distant stars above let alone the other planets in our solar system. However explorers are not all lost yet, there are those that still search for the next element on the Periodic Table, designing the next cure, or finding a new species, or even just exploring deeper into the human psyche. This is no less or more impressive than the feats of Magellan or Drake or Columbus. But it was we have left to explorer, while the horizon may not be real, the goals and the pursuit are no less impressive.