This weekend was essentially a two-day hell in cities across the United States. The streets of America were set ablaze by thugs intent on sowing discord in our society. Whether these bad actors are motivated by avenging the death of George Floyd or a simple desire to destroy the American system remains to be seen, but either way, the situation has been dire. Things are bleak, and the situation does not seem to be improving. However, in the middle of all that, the weekend also saw a little bit of good news that might help lighten the burden of a negative news cycle.
God knows we could use it.
On Saturday, for the first time in history, a private space company successfully launched astronauts into space. In a partnership with NASA, SpaceX, founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, launched a rocket into orbit and delivered its crew safely to the International Space Station. It marked a return to space for America, which hasn’t launched a rocket into space from American soil since 2011. The cessation of American space travel was thanks to the Obama administration, which killed the NASA space program that had been the pride of the country since President John F. Kennedy set our sights on the moon in the early 1960s.
President Kennedy gave a famous speech at Rice Stadium at the time of that famous first launch, in which he told Americans that “the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace…yet the vows of this nation can only be fulfilled if we in this nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first.”
Then he uttered one of the most famous lines of the era: “We choose to go to the moon…we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
Now, nearly 60 years later, America has its sights set on the moon again. This time, the goal is to return to the moon in 2024, and this may be possible thanks to the innovation of Elon Musk and the leadership of President Trump and Vice President Pence.
Elon Musk is best known for his work with Tesla, the company that provides some of the most cutting-edge electric vehicles available.
However, Elon Musk’s biggest dream has always been to send humans to space with his own company. He attended space camp as a kid and founded SpaceX in the late 2000s. In just over a decade, he unleashed the innovation of the private sector to build a rocket good enough to go to space.
On Saturday, as President Trump and Vice President Trump looked on, the SpaceX rocket took off with two astronauts on board. The launch was a success and on Sunday the crew docked with the International Space Center.
The free market is capable of accomplishing miraculous feats including sending humans into space. Granted, this was a collaborative effort between the public and private sectors, but it proves that, when the genius of man is unleashed, there is no limit to what humans can do.
In America, this is especially true. The NASA space program was a point of national pride throughout the turbulent 1960s. It brought the country together when nothing else could. It is fitting that the SpaceX rocket launched during another turbulent era in our history.
A return to the moon and, hopefully, a successful mission to Mars, could have a similar unifying effect. Our nation needs a cessation of hostilities and a cause in which we all have mutual pride.
Elon Musk had better make sure he gets to Mars quickly because Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is right on his heels. Amazon has expanded into other industries, including autonomous vehicles and grocery stores. Now they want to tackle space exploration.
Last year, Bezos told a Las Vegas crowd that “the reason we go to space in my view is to save the earth.” He said while he doesn’t anticipate this happening in his lifetime, he believes that it will happen in future generations. “Humankind needs to move heavy industry off Earth and leave Earth as our residence.”
The modern-day space race should be exciting. This time it is being led by competing entrepreneurs and not Cold War rivals. But regardless of which CEO gets there first, one thing is for sure: America is back in space!