We as a society have become jaded by the banalities of modern existence.
The idea of travelling beyond the reaches of our planet’s confines has become something of a given; the frequency of trips to the ISS has relegated space travel to just another fact of daily life. With the cancellation of the Space Shuttle programme, this has further propelled the notion that space has become common, that humans choose to obsess over trivial things rather than contemplate the big questions out there.
Our sense of wonder has left us, to be replaced with the pressures of 9-5 living, of surviving the next day, and the day after, existing for the weekend or that holiday that will proffer us an ounce of reprieve from the stress of the now. We’ve forgotten what it was like to be caught up in the excitement of one of our species venturing forth into the unknown, discovering something new and taking us as a civilisation just a step further.
We’ve forgotten what it was like to be amazed, to be awe-inspired by the wonders of exploration. With the moon conquered, with Everest scaled, we’ve become a little too complacent with our position on Earth. Issues arising from that double-edged sword of industrialisation and political bureaucracy have resulted in a stagnation of appreciation for the beauty that is discovery. Many aren’t phased by the heroic missions of astronauts on the ISS.
What we need is something truly spectacular to rekindle that feeling of the Apollo days, the Space Shuttle days. The launch of a Soyuz from the deserts of Russia offers some of that excitement; last year’s chilling free-fall jump by Felix Baumgartner was another moment when humanity collectively witnessed something amazing in the name of going into the unknown. We need more of these moments. More of those fragments of time when the troubles of today can be put into the perspective of a grander vision of existence.
As we progressively advance our technologies, and science continues its relentless pace forward, I do hope that this generation, and the ones following it, will keep this momentum going and inspire those moments of wonder that validate us as the curious creatures that we are.