Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Final Fronteir

"Space. The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise it's continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life, and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before."
Opening monologue, Star Trek: The Next Generation TV Series (modifired from Star Trek original series).
It's been well over 40 years since Gene Rodenberry's vision of the future Star Trek aired on Tv. The iconic mantra "to boldly go where no man has gone before" has become a staple in Americana. 10+ movies later, 6 series later, and countless novels, Star Trek's appeal has only broadened with the recent reboot by director J.J. Abrahms.
In 2010, well past the boom of the space race and the paranoia of the commies invading (at least the Russian commies), we move on to a new age in mankinds ever pursuant venture of exploration. Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Mobile, Virgin Airways, Virgin Records) has spear headed the next frontier of space exploration. Move over NASA, perhaps the real predecessor of the Star Trek universe isn't our government but the Branson owned Virgin Galactic.
Virgin Galactic is the worlds first ever space tourism--ah, capitalism in space, take that communists! Virgin Galactic has announced that tourists flights will be ready (pending smooth testing) to launch in 2011. 2011, why, that's just next year!
Get this, the ships that will be launched into commercial sub-orbital space flight will be named, appropriately, the V.S.S. Enterprise and the V.S.S. Voyager. Both ships share the name with both an actual NASA spacecraft (The Enterprise and Voyager space shuttles, and the Voyager sattelite launched in the mid 20th century) and with starships in the Star Trek Universe, the most famous being the flagship of the show the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701.
So, why am I telling you this? Why am I bantering about Star Trek and space exploration, and virgin mobile and the like. I'l l tell you why. Because it's fuckin' cool, okay?
As a child, I wanted to be an astronaut. I was, and continue to be fascinated by the stars and the cosmos. What lies beyond the Terran realm once captured my imagination and put a choke hold on it that remains to this day. I would later, as a child still, discover Star Trek and fall in love with the series and it's message. I dreamt of exploring space, of exploring the final frontier, of catching a glimpse into a future that seemed unimaginable at the time. To catch a glimpse at the moon from orbit. To fly past the rings of Saturn, to look at the Earth from outside of it!? Can you imagine it. The images engraved in our head of a blue earth with green land and white swirly clouds, suddenly palpable. Suddenly, stricken by the sharp contrast of the blackness and emptiness of space, the maginficence of the Milkyway, and the fieral burning of the sun. For the first time, you could see both night and day on Earth and be subject to neither!
Virgin Galactic has done for my dreams of space exploration what NASA could never do. Put it within reach. Maybe, I won't be courting green aliens, or talking to a Scottish engineer who's telling me that we can't go any faster, maybe I won't be butting heads with a pointy eared little freak who's undeniable logic irks me, or instructing a prepubescant boy to "Engage". Perphaps, I'll never go faster than the speed of light or save a planet. But, thanks to Sir Branson I'll be able to travel in outer space on the starship Enterprise, and I'll be damned if I'm not wearing a Starfleet uniform.

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