Kudos go to the bipartisan support for the future of humanity in space. And to clear away a common complaint from some West Virginian taxpayers: Why must money be wasted on useless space ventures when those billions could be used for worthier causes like medical research, poverty, infrastructure and so much more? Answer: For every dollar spent on the Apollo space program, between 14 and 21 dollars was returned. The math will only go up as the moon and the asteroids are mined. We go because exploration and resources are essential.

What was barely gone noticed is a sea-change. Private individuals (not just billionaires) and space-interest organizations are on the rise. Since I’m a member of the Planetary Society, here are some of their accomplishments:

1. My name placed five times on Mars; 2. name on New Horizons spacecraft (scheduled to last 1 to 2 million years); 3. helped to solve the Anomaly Mystery; 4. helped to find a planet in the Alpha Centauri system; 5. name on Cassini Mission; 6. name on asteroid and comet missions; 7. helped to name craters on asteroid Eros; 8. helped to finance and name on two spacecrafts currently in orbit around Earth (Light Sail 2 and Cubesort); 9. part of program to protect millions of people from asteroid strikes; 10. name on asteroid ablation film credits; and many other missions and projects.

There have been failures. Yet the growing army of enthusiasts marches on. There was a time – a long time ago – when all space dreamers could do was dream. No longer. Onward and upward humanity must go.

On February 18, NASA’s MARS 2020 spacecraft is scheduled to land on Mars. Will it find life – past or present? Eleven million names are included on that craft. No interest in space? Critics must now admit that has never been the case.

Lonnie Bailey

Pineville

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