Mrs Vache Folle and I are scheduled to sail on the Norwegian Gem tomorrow afternoon to Cape Canaveral and the Bahamas. The Cape Canaveral port of call was a big selling point for me, and we booked an excursion to tour the space center up close. I can hardly contain myself. I am a space geek from way back and followed the space program from Mercury to Gemini to Apollo like other kids followed baseball. The Shuttle program lost me, though, but now I'm keen to see where the Shuttle was launched and all that went into the program.
We used to go to Huntsville every other year or so when I was a kid as it was only a couple of hours away. They had a Saturn V lying on its side and many of the other rockets as well. You could get in a Mercury capsule and handle all kinds of cool futuristic crap. You could buy astronaut food and Tang in a bag. It was heaven for me. I'm hoping Cape Canaveral is as much fun.
Until the stupid Shuttle era, NASA was one government program that I could really get behind (along with the Student Loan program which I'm now against). Even now, it's the program that I begrudge the least. That's because of the potential for it to provide entertainment and because it plays into my hobby of learning about space. If there were no NASA, I would join a club and pay dues to have much of the same things done. Even with the boring and overengineered Shuttle, NASA continued to do cool stuff like sending probes to other planets, to comets and to asteroids. Pretty soon, there'll be a new mission to the Moon, if we can even pull it off at this point. I may even live long enough to see humans walk on Mars (on TV, of course, since I won't be going). They'll be Chinese, of course. I'm hoping to spend a vacation at Virgin's Grand Lunar Hotel and Casino at the Sea of Tranqulity.
I suspect that NASA and other governmental space agencies won't be the drivers of space exploration in the long run. It will be business and pioneering. I'm talking Zero Gravity Nursing Homes (my idea), space tourism, low gravity manufacturing, Helium-2 mining on the Moon. The possibilities are endless.
I also have the irrational belief that it is the destiny of mankind to colonize the universe and spread life, and this sometimes colors my religious beliefs as well. When I think of the end times and the completion of the Kingdom of Heaven, I'm thinking of billions of years in the future with a much changed and more highly developed mankind. This is the kind of thing that makes a visit to Cape Canaveral or Huntsville something of a pilgrimage.