Space: What’s NOT to Hope for?

At the NASA tweet-up down at the Kennedy Space Center for the STS-129 launch a reporter asked me a question that really threw me. Here, a week later, I’m still thinking about it. He asked:

“Do you think bringing tweeters here gives NASA hope for the future.”

NASA Tweeps Photo Credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi

NASA Tweeps Photo Credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi

Hope for the future? Really?

Why wouldn’t we have hope for the future? With or without Twitter in the mix?

What’s not to hope for?

Now, I get all the doom and gloom reporting about job losses with the end of the Space Shuttle program, and threats of budget cuts. Yes, the job losses are real. Yes, they are heartbreaking AND very frightening for those whose jobs are at stake. Yes, we’ll probably take some budget hits from the White House and Congress. We are, after all, in a squeezed economy…though we see signs of recovery. But none of this is new. We’ve faced all this before.

But, hope for the future? I simply can’t conceive the reverse.

We have a universe of questions out there to find answers to. We, as humans, are curious creatures. We’ll find ways to get the answers. It may or may not look like someone’s pet project. It may or may not fit on today’s calendar. Or even tomorrow’s.

But we, as a human race, WILL GO FORWARD. We will seek answers beyond our planetary borders.

NASA will play a role. What that role will be is determined by the President and Congress. That’s the way this works. But we’ll be a player, none-the-less. We’ll shape the debate. We’ll craft the solutions.

Again, what’s not to hope for?

Maybe what we need more than hope is to work harder to ignite that spark of passion in young and old alike to:

  • ask big questions,
  • never accept the easy answer,
  • stretch beyond even our wildest dreams.

Oh we have much to hope for! Humanity has many problems yet to solve. But some of us can’t sleep until we bridge the gap between imagination and reality. And, you know what? It’s not about you and me…or what we may want out of this life — fame, fortune, power, or simply survival.

Hope is about a better tomorrow…for all of humanity.

So the real question may be: what role will NASA and the international space community play in the future? (A HUGE one, I hope!) And, how can you and I take steps to get us there?

If you ask me, I want to: Be the hope! Be the change!

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi

Cross post on OpenNASA.


Filed under culture, Earth, federal government, leadership, NASA, social media, space, tweet-up

25 responses to “Space: What’s NOT to Hope for?

  1. One constant that has been present though out fifty year history of NASA is the quality, hard work and dedication of its people. Even before those first foot prints were made on the Moon President Johnson began to cut NASA funding and every president since has followed that lead. Yet NASA has always prevailed. No single government agency has given the American tax payer a greater return for their investment than NASA. The advances in technology, medicine, agriculture, science, and exploration are mind boggling. So when I “hope” for NASA’s future, it is not for their continued existence. My hope is, that the proper and adequate funding that NASA not only deserves but has rightly earned be allotted them. NASA has made our lives richer. I watched the first Moon landings live forty plus years ago, and I watched STS-129 launch from the NASA causeway last week. Both experiences have served to remind me how much more wondrous my world is with NASA in it.

    Much success,
    David M. Brown
    Circleville, OH

  2. anired

    I couldn’t have agreed more!
    Happy Thanksgiving

  3. Pretty Project

    Great post; very thoughtful and inspiring! 🙂

  4. Love that quote!

    If you do not try to change the things that you feel should be changed, then you have no right to complain about them when they don’t change.

  5. Hmmm…very thoughtfull.Indeed the pioneering work done by NASA so far is beyond doubt.Not just Americans,people all over the world benefit from it.

    “Hope remains so long as you seek it”-M.K.Gandhi

  6. Rob

    When almost everything else lost it’s “cool” from childhood, NASA remains the coolest of cool. I had my little NASA moon suit toy when I was a kid and I STILL think working at NASA would be the best career of all time (As a matter of fact, I am a rocket scientist).

    My one complaint with NASA is the poor job of PR they don’t do. NASA has added more to techno-culture than any other program and so few people know about it. That should change, people.
    (P.S., even unemployed former NASA folks are cool).

    • bethbeck

      I’m glad you still think we’re cool. Not everyone would agree. And it’s much easier to hang with someone like you, who appreciates what we do, than to strike up a relationship with those who could care less about space.

      Yes, we’ve got MUCH work to do. Exclusive membership in our little space club won’t cut it. Time to open the doors wide. We’ll get there, though. I have faith…

  7. I finally saw a shuttle launch! It was
    great weather and a great crowd at the
    launch Monday November 16th. It was
    fascinating to see so many children at the
    launch. It provides hope for the future
    when young kids are interested in space.

    At the astronaut breakfast that morning an
    astronaut mentioned that after these last
    shuttles are finished the real work begins.
    The International Space Station will become the learning lab to open space travel and technology
    to go to Mars. He mentioned that many 10 to 12 year old’s in the room may be the astronauts that will take us to Mars. It will be a 5 year mission and everything to survive those years will have to be
    on board the spacecraft. Everything will have to be self-sustaining and recyclable. The science to take us to Mars may well be the science to help us save our planet.

    This made me realize more than ever that the journey to the future is as important as achieving the goals. All the technology and science learned going into space has changed our daily lives for the better. Those things are never found on balance sheets. I hope we do not become
    so worried about the money today that we rob ourselves of our future.

    Possibly the biggest minefield facing our journey into the future is our anchors to today and our past.

  8. Sometimes reporters ask really dumb questions. We just have to live with it, and try to be polite. It usually happens when they can’t think of anything relevant to ask.

    That question could also mean “OK, there’s no hope for the future – y’think Twitter will bring it?”

    However … it can’t hurt.

    I hope I’m not antagonizing anybody here, but I have a lot more faith in the Hope and Change you write about than those emptily promised by the Administration.

    On another subject, have you written about the role that private enterprise will play in space exploration? Companies like the Rutan’s, like Branson, the couple of companies making private launches, …

    • bethbeck

      Many others have written quite eloquently about the emerging space business. All I can say is: Go for it! The universe has a great deal of room for creative enterprise.

      The way I look at it, NASA forged the path for others to follow. I’m looking forward to the “space gold-rush” where “wagon-ships” full of hopefuls follow in our wake. (Hopefully in my lifetime!)

      • freedomactionnow

        “I’m looking forward to the “space gold-rush” …

        That’s a great image. I’ll bet there’ll be a generation of “49ers”

        (For the youth among us):

        49ers and the gold rush

        … except it’ll probably be 2049 …

        But we saw it start.

  9. trixie

    Serious thoughts, deep questions. Only want to correct one thing but important. The one and only Gandhi whom you quote, not Gandi. I feel the respected figure such him deserved his name to be spelled right. Well, good writing anyway…

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  11. I find this article to be very inspiring for the humane morale. It allows the spirit of not only americans, but the human race to sore above any circumstances.

  12. aimee

    Ok…so at the risk of sounding really smarmy and the risk of putting myself out there publicly…I just want to tell you how awesome and inspiring I think you are. So you may not meet daddy and grandma’s expectations that you will be the first female President of the United States…but you do make an impact. Your observations are always thoughtful and always make me think beyond the moment. As with Esther, you have been placed where you are for such a time as this. I know I sound 12 here…but you are a great sister and I wanted you to know that!

  13. So true! There’s indifference and cynicism wherever I turn about space exploration in general and NASA in particular. A part of it is the perceived routine of it, and another part is the link to the government, an institution that is at least partially responsible for some more Earthly issues such as the economy, wars, etc.
    There’s a lot of promise, a lot to wait for, but that’s also one of the issues – we’re at an ever accelerating culture of less and less reliable technology and all we want is instant gratification. That doesn’t exist in space exploration. Everything needs to be very safe, tested a lot and thought about from all angles and even then there are mistakes.
    All in all, I’m happy to be one of the people drawing inspiration from the space program.

    It is extraordinary.

    It will bypass our wildest dreams for sure, even if we’re not here to see it.

  14. Beth,
    So glad you posted your blog link on the bologna forum, I’m just now discovering it and I really have enjoyed all of the posts I’ve read.

    Put me down in the camp that finds NASA “cool to the max”

    I so appreciate all that you do -it is VERY important work!

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