By John Kanelis
Amid all the gloom and grief, and all the mayhem and misery associated with a global pandemic and the death of a man at the hands of brutal cops in Minneapolis, Minn., I found time Saturday to cheer an event for which I have been waiting.
At around 2:30 p.m., Central Daylight Time, a rocket launched from Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral, Fla. It carried two American astronauts into orbit. It was the first launch of Americans from a U.S. launching pad in nearly a decade.
What’s more, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have docked with the International Space Station, setting up a lengthy mission in Earth orbit.
I could not believe the flutter in my heart as they counted down the final seconds before the launch. Then the Space X rocket lit up and burst off the pad toward Earth orbit.
NASA and Space X have teamed up for a historic event and this one was worth cheering ... loudly, in fact. I was thrilled in a way I hadn't been thrilled since I was a whole lot younger watching the early launches of the American space program with my mother.
Indeed, I thought of Mom while I watched Space X roar into space, wondering how she would have reacted to the sight of Americans zooming into the heavens aboard an American-made rocket, from a U.S. launch pad. Mom would be proud, too.
Space X is the product of a company owned by Elon Musk, the zillionaire owner of Tesla. His company has designed a fantastic space vehicle. I noticed how the first-stage rocket was able to land softly on a drone ship at sea in good enough shape to be used again on a subsequent space flight.
This is really cool stuff, man. It is cool for those of us who are old enough to remember the excitement and romance that used to be associated with space travel.
I am no Pollyanna. I know this is expensive, even with a privately ownership taking the lead on this kind of exploration. However, I have long believed -- and always will believe -- that humanity was put on this good Earth to venture as far as possible to explore.
I am just glad to see American technology being brought back into the picture once again to take that next "giant leap for mankind."
Given the troubling context of the times, the launch of a rocket into space was a welcome sight to this old man's eyes.
John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, www.highplainsblogger.com. Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.
Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.