NASA Culture: June 2009 Archives

The Next Giant Leap, GQ

"You are reading this because you have no idea what NASA is doing. And NASA, tongue-tied by jargon, can't figure out how to tell you. But the agency is engaged in work that can be more enduring and far-reaching than anything else this country is paying for. At NASA's inception the government declared that "activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind," and this is one of the few promises in American history that have been kept. NASA is now fifty. The moonwalk was forty years ago this month. The NASA of yore did the unimaginable in eight years, making good on President Kennedy's assertion that "this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth." It succeeded for two reasons: access to a staggering 4.4 percent of the federal budget (now it's half a percent) and, more importantly, perhaps resurgently, a national desire to believe in ourselves--and in something more than ourselves. Since then, NASA, vision flickering, public imagination uncaptured, has stooped to offering belittling practical justifications for spaceflight (GPS, cell phones) that ground and practicalize the sublime, killing its poetry."



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This page is an archive of entries in the NASA Culture category from June 2009.

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