Once upon a time, the United States had a formidable U.S. space program: a glimpse of far-off worlds, rovers outlasting their Martian lifespan, an impressive six-member shuttle fleet. NASA, persevering with every conceivable effort, pushes onward and upward to keep us flying with just three of those original birds. Inhabiting space and low-earth orbit is no longer about the race to get there, but to keep chasing each dream — to be there.
A human presence outside our biosphere gives us a unique perspective of our single ecosystem and a renewed spirit of stewardship. Discoveries from space may be science from our frontier, but they are the promising technologies needed to mend for the better of all Earth. American ingenuity and synergy with cooperative nations is as vital as the initiative and intention of individual pursuit. This beautiful and bold nation, with her vigor to excel and propel ideas into action, with peripheral insight, challenges us to endeavor each stage that redefines our essence and purpose.
The tragic Concorde accidents that now mothball the entire SST fleet leave nothing new or modern to replace it. We live with a pressure that comes from splitting pride with uncertainty. Unfortunate realities of the Challenger and Columbia mishaps would be enough for us to quickly do the same. Eager countries with space programs have taken on burdens to absorb the human and monetary costs of operating, maintaining and completing the orbiting laboratory, International Space Station Freedom. There are brilliant things we continue to do to keep climbing the blue.
Cheaper than building another shuttle, Enterprise, which never made orbit and sits resting in the Smithsonian, could be re-engineered, retrofitted and made to serve as backup to the three remaining functional space-faring shuttles. American Enterprise, docking with International Freedom: Isn’t that why we’re flying?
— Steve Minnick, Camarillo