NASA warns the consequences of America's shifting culture change.

America isn't about who's best, it's about who wins. - David Bowie's "The Man Who Fell To Earth"

It was obvious while at Kennedy Space Center today that our move to "free market capitalist", that is to say, a private enterprise space program is making conservatives and the religious giggle with joy. NASA is dying, and in one film today at the space center they showed how conservatives have suggested, the issues of our planet, and the benefits of the space program are unimportant. Since this was NASA's home turf they defend it to pieces, explaining the scientific gains mankind has made from it. It's great, it's Americana, and its everything America should be, everything it was, but isn't any longer. No one would say it but it was readily apparent when people walked out on Astronaut Fred Gregory, and ran to get in line for Star Trek LIVE, how much disrespect for the real program there actually was and is. Sure Star Trek is cool, but here live, was an American hero: a man who risked his life three different times for his country; for you, me, and the people who rudely shunned him because it wasn't interesting. There was a disconnect.

Kennedy Space Center itself is a facade for the concept of space. They borrow soundtracks from Apollo 13, and actors like Leonardo DiCaprio to narrate IMAX 3-D movies, and Disney style attractions. While entertaining it's not what I expected; I expected a tour of a working facility, and a more realistic presentation of the work that goes into the space program. What it really is, is a Rock and Roll, light and magic show that empowers the visitor to feel the triumphs of mankind. To encourage pride and to spirit passion much like its alternative theme parks a few miles away.

Despite this, I'd go to NASA a million times over any other attraction; however, it does demonstrate even the most objective of institutions in America has a manufactured visage. Science guised as an Hollywood action flick in order to obtain the interest of the American public.  Americans want to believe we're better than we actually are, yet we're the same country that would push a handicap person out of the way to avoid ascending three flights of steps (I witnessed this on this vacation). Americans may scoff at my comments, but only in America are handicap elevators used to encourage healthy people to be lazy (elevators are mainly installed because of wheelchair access laws).

The other day in class, my  professor from Europe was confused over American culture and our insistence to make deals. For example: a student earning a B-grade, but bargaining for an A-grade. America is the land of competition, where we're always jockeying for a better position. She asked me "why?", and at the time I didn't have a straight answer. Today I figured it out: it was the Cold War. The is is a country born out of competition. Competition that drove us to the moon through the Space Race. It was great for America then because it moved us forward and ultimately led the country from the brink of war to a technological revolution. When the Cold War ended, so did our ambitions and values that we embedded into our culture. We (especially conservatives) transferred these values to capitalism instead of competing with the Russians-where we turned on each other and have been cannibalizing ourselves since. Now the core values of what it means to be American are being eroded by the one group (conservatives) who most claim they cling to these traditional values. They're dismantling the space program: and idea of American Passion that is the center of what made America different than Europe or anywhere else on Earth. Somewhere in all this mess, we've forgotten what we really need is the embodiment on mankind's spirit, of American values: a 30 story Saturn V rocket with enough fuel to make us re-think what we're capable of as a species.

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. -JFK

 In another article we've been talking about people who have never left their home-state, and who don't understand why I want to leave. To me, exploration and travel is part of being human, a part of our humanity.

One NASA employee put it much more to the point today: "Where would mankind be if he would have looked out of his cave upon the hills and not wondered what was on the other side? Never chose to leave his home and travel to find something better?"


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