This past week Atlantis completed the final mission of the space shuttle program landing safely at Kennedy Space Center. As her wheels touched down on the tarmac, America became a carless teenager bumming rides off of Russia in the hopes of partying with the cool kids on the space station.
What America needs is some serious space cred, and the only way to regain our good space graces is a road trip to Mars. Let us be clear, this isn’t a trip to Mars just to declare ourselves the victor in some solar system-wide game of “Do you have a flag?” (If you don’t get the Eddie Izzard reference, click here.) This trip has nothing to do with being on Mars. The reward is in getting to Mars. It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey.
Lest we forget, it was on a similar journey to the moon that America made one of its greatest discoveries — Tang.
Tang was first marketed to the American public in 1959 and quickly found itself in danger of becoming another failed product until NASA came along. If it weren’t for the space program, we wouldn’t know the joy of Tang.
I drank Tang as a kid. Why? Because Tang was what astronauts drank. When my mom wasn’t looking, I scooped a few extra spoonfuls of that Day-Glo orange powder into the glass. Everyone knows the Tang slurry at the bottom of the glass was the best bit. I’m sure John Glenn did the same thing, but I digress.
My friends, we cannot know what other delicious, faux fruit, breakfast drinks will be revealed as we explore our solar system. The space shuttle era is over. Enterprise, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour are now museum centerpieces. It’s time to find out what else is out there. It’s time to go to Mars.