This week, I had the privilege of being present during Orbital Science Antares Test Launch. The launch, like SpaceX’s Falcon, was a success. This is the first fruits of the 1988 Commercial Space policies that were initiated by President Reagan. The success begins to fill the void of the retired Shuttle Era where the USA once again has the ready capability to resupply the International Space Station. Frank Culbertson is Executive Vice President and General Manager of Orbital’s Advanced Programs Group stated the importance of continuing this endeavor of commercial space, space careers and inspiring the next generation. He spoke in clear, passionate words, stating why the success of commercial programs rests on the future generation. “The importance of speaking with your children about space exploration… so our kids can have that as part of their future,” he said.
So what does this really mean to the transition of the Space Community within the USA? We all know the space frontier is global now. ESA is building their program and has invested heavily in space and engineering education and programs. Africa has improved their capabilities and has a focus on communications and space focus. Even China and South America are well within the game now. What was once a USA led adventure, is now a global effort. But where does this leave the US? As Lori Garver stated in a press conference on at the NASA Wallops Facility. “the US Space Program is alive and well.” She also continued to tell us that we are still leaders and the commercial programs are good indicators.
In the last 30 years, there has been marked concern about where our Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programs within the upcoming generation. The concern has been the lack of interest in these fields. Let’s be real, for many, the math required to do these subjects is hard. The concepts of physics, dynamics do not seem “fun” topics to the average person who lacks a focused passion towards engineering and space. As Culbertson mentioned, our goal must be to instill the passion into our youth — so they can become the inspired next generation scientist or engineer.
The Federation of Galaxy Explores has had this same passion to inspire the next generation for over a decade. Can we do this… yes, we can. The commercial launches are proof that we have the technology, the know how, the savvy and the intellect. We are proud of our government and commercial endeavors. We seek to inspire the next generation so that we too can continue to be the world’s leaders and participants in the global effort of Space, the frontier of our future explorations.