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Editor's Note: Greetings from the New World

June 29, 2010
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As can be expected, Neil Armstrong is in favor of space travel and would like to see more moon landings, as seen in this comment in The Week.



As can be expected, Neil Armstrong is in favor of space travel and would like to see more moon landings, as seen in this comment in The Week.

“Some question why America should return to the moon. After all, they say, ‘We have already been there,’” says Armstrong. “It would be as if 16th-century monarchs proclaimed that we need not go to the New World-we have already been there.”

Aerospace is a big issue, both in the United States and abroad, as our aerospace agency considers different directions and possibilities.

President Obama wants to reorient NASA toward long-term goals of reaching Mars and the farther reaches of the solar system. In The Week’s article, he says, “By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth, and a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it.”

The world seems full of possibilities -the moon, Mars, deep space-with so many choices and so little time. Today there is a fork in the sky as government debates where to focus next.

Though NASA’s next steps may not be clear, no matter where resources are focused, space research benefits those of us on the ground, as it drives many other products out there.

Next time you drink clean water, hear your smoke detector or ask your GPS how to get somewhere, you have NASA’s work with private companies to thank.

Smoke detectors, solar panels, water purification systems, medical imaging and GPS navigation systems all were developed through private companies in concert with NASA. Of course, aerospace applications keep many other businesses busy supplying equipment and supplies to meet stringent requirements for space.

No matter what the application, it seems our space organization is always up to something new. In between many other projects, you may not be surprised to hear they are tweeting-and sharing content on Facebook and Flickr.

Google says www.nasa.gov is the 604th most-popular site on the Web-Twitter itself is 18th-and the agency has more than 417,000 followers on Twitter and one of the most influential Twitter feeds, according to a NASA blog

No matter how you learn about it, space continues to fascinate us and remains a popular topic, as seen in a mock quote from the coupon site Groupon. The site recently listed favorite movie “quotes,” including one from “Apolloblanca”: “Houston…We’ll always have Paris.”

Whether you are reading this in Texas, France or Morocco, space captures the imagination and has the power to affect everyone on the planet.

In his 2009 University of Portland commencement address, entrepreneur and environmentalist Paul Hawken discussed the importance of appreciating the wonder in the world:

“Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.”

This summer, in between crossing off items on a to-do list and watching reruns, get out and enjoy those stars.

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