Call from space proves nothing is out of reach

Saturday, January 5, 2019

I was approaching my 10th birthday in the Fall of 1957 when the Russians launched the Sputnik satellite and the space race was underway.

It was an amazing and somewhat frightening time as the race began for space supremacy and our nation was clearly behind.

But I also remember the summer of 1969 when America regained the crown and landed a man on the moon.

Since those first ventures into space, countless milestones have been reached but they lacked the significance of those earlier marvels that marked the race of technology that has dominated the world of exploration for lo those many years.

These past memories returned on New Year’s Day when I read about a message from space — actually a “phone call” — of data transmitted from the New Horizon’s spacecraft a mere 4 billion miles in space.

Let me repeat. Four billion miles into space!

What I know about space travel could fit in a thimble.

But I can understand 4 billion miles and you can’t help but be impressed.

The spacecraft was launched in 2006 to explore Pluto and beyond. It is now beyond.

At a speed sometimes reaching 32,000 miles per hour, this marvel of modern science is constantly sending back data from its travels though that data takes almost two years to make its way into the hands of NASA.

I’m uncertain just what advancement of mankind can or will be learned from this lengthy journey.

But perhaps more important is the simple fact that mankind has achieved the ability to send something billions of miles into space and still receive a radio signal that lets us know it is still in tact and apparently, doing its mission.

There’s chatter recently that China has a space mission and the Russians remain highly engaged in space exploration.

At the same time, there is massive pressure here to reduce spending for NASA.

But regardless of the outcome or who reaches Mars or whatever lies in the vast unknown reaches of space, American ingenuity has a technical marvel still working and still traveling even beyond the 4-billion-mile mark.

My generation is a product of the space age. We can vividly recall staring into a night sky with the remote possibility of spying a manmade object sailing at a speed and height unimaginable.

As the years passed and milestones were reached, interest waned in space exploration as our focus became more worldly.

But this week’s 4-billion-mile “phone call” reminds us that perhaps nothing is out of reach.

Funny how we can’t seem to come up with a solution for our porous southern border but somehow we can create a machine that has reached far beyond even our collective imaginations.

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