These days we talk about human missions to Mars as if a new type of space race has begun, one clearly distanced from the original by a good 40 or more years, a race we believe we won, because we sent astronauts to the moon. What if the original race never ended?
As I continue contemplating the dizzying number of shows that I previewed at both, I find that one of the few that I continue to think about on an ongoing basis and one of the very few that I cannot wait to see is Syfy's Ascension.
Alongside me the day in 1992 when we launched, in the historical background, were others -- the African-American engineers, rocket scientists, physicists, administrators, technicians and life scientists who helped build the space program.
She neither lives nor dies and has no name; she has been internalized. She's the moment of wonder itself. In her presence the child still gazes, wide-eyed. Beyond her, there dances a marvelous night sky full of stars.
On one front, decision-makers argue about the destination to which astronauts should be sent to spark a space race-like sense of purpose. Meanwhile, others ask that the space agency direct its efforts to address a narrow scientific question or parochial interest.
Armstrong's death last week has evoked numerous gauzy tributes to his amazing courage. But romantic memories of that historic moment belie the real triumph for Armstrong, NASA, and our deeply conflicted nation of the late 1960's.
America cannot afford to squander the opportunity to take full advantage of exploring the next great frontier: space. So it is time for the presidential candidates -- Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney -- to let America know where they really stand on the issue.
Will we look back and ask ourselves whether the decision to abandon space was a wise decision? Or will historians look back and identify this decision as a textbook example of when America sacrificed long-term strategic goals for short-term interests.
Tonight is a celebration of the first time humanity sent one of its own into space. Throughout the world right now, a young boy or girl is looking upward, and asking, "What else is possible?" After all, if you can calculate a rocket's trajectory into space, you can calculate almost anything.
So, why travel into space and why should tax payers pay for humans to travel beyond Earth? Because this exploration will return direct economic value beyond exploration, in areas such as energy and minerals.