September 21st may have marked the end of an era for America’s manned space program. The space shuttle Endeavour flew a final victory lap over California. The pictures above and below show the shuttle passing over Alcatraz and by the Transamerica Building in San Francisco, respectively. Ironically, NASA must now rely on Russian spacecraft to ferry Americans to the International Space Station.
The good news is that technology has come a long way since the lunar landing in 1969. In fact, it has come so far that the typical cell phone today has more computing power than all of NASA did in 1969. However, the demographic tidal wave that threatens to consume government expenditures via entitlement spending has made using American tax payer dollars on space exploration an increasingly untenable proposition. The government is funneling the scarce dollars it has to private organizations like the Sierra Nevada Corporation, SpaceX, and the Boeing Company to shepherd NASA through the next stage of space exploration.
It’s still hard to believe that America put a man on the moon over forty years ago. It’s even harder to believe that America will be capable of doing anything remotely comparable to that forty years hence.
That said, I’m confident that America will put more effort into exploring the stars as soon as the Chinese reignite the space race.