Griffin’s Reply to a Long Lost Classmate

I’ve written about an incident that I recall from my youth, sometime after the second or perhaps the third moon landing (circa 1970 or 1971).  In a ‘spirited’ class discussion, the kind that 16 or 17 year olds got into during the Viet-Nam War era, one of my friends said words to the effect that “Going to the moon was nice, ‘n all, but it’s time to spend the money here on earth, helpin’ the poor or somthin'”.

We, the class, starting addressing the question of why we went to the moon in the first place.  NASA chief administrator Michael Griffin gave a much better answer than I was capable of giving.

I’ve reached the point where I am completely convinced that if NASA were to disappear tomorrow, if the American space program were to disappear tomorrow, if we never put up another Hubble, never put another human being in space, people would be profoundly distraught. Americans would feel less than themselves. They would feel that our best days are behind us. They would feel that we have lost something, something that matters. And yet they would not know why.

You see, there are acceptable reasons, and there are the right reasons.

It’s definitely worth your time to read the whole thing.

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