When the space shuttle Atlantis lands 13 days from today it will be the end of an era that began when the folks of my generation were but children. This country began our quest of manned space flight in fierce competition with the Soviet Union. They began with the Sputnik…we had the Mercury program. Alan Shepard was the first American in space…John Glenn the first to orbit the earth. We beat the Russians to the moon with the Apollo program when Neil Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969 and uttered the immortal words, "That's one small step for man…one giant leap for mankind". In doing so NASA fulfilled the challenge of President John F. Kennedy—made during a speech in 1961--to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. We owe countless scientific, technological and medical discoveries to the space program.
Should the U.S. stop launching men and women into space? Many cite the fact that our country is trillions of dollars in debt as a reason to greatly downsize the space program's mission. Other's wonder if this is not a disturbing sign of a weakening American dominance in many areas. Regardless of your philosophy…let us hope that we will again be in a position to reinvigorate our space program and lead the world in the exploration and domination of the last frontier. I'm Jim Cameron…and we'd like to hear what you have to say.