When the Space Shuttle stopped flying a couple years ago, many in the public had the thought that space flight was over. Those in the industry knew that not to be the case, but in space, as in many situations, perception becomes the reality no matter how successful we may be. A lot of hard work has moved the bar forward with NASA’s work on the Space Launch System. SpaceX unveiled the Dragon Version 2 and Sierra Nevada has the DreamChaser. Additionally, the number of rocket companies adding to the ‘win’ column for progress continues to grow. That is the reality.
The perception is that space is passe or doomed. We are currently dependent on Russia to get our personnel to the space station. The current situation in the world has some worried that we won’t be able to launch space bound vehicles soon, as we can no longer get the rocket engines we need. Space, as the public has seen it, is not exciting any more.
That perception of space flight, coupled with the ugliness of reality – multiple wars, religious and political upheaval, as well as nature gone venge-binge on us humans – and the future seems very bleak indeed. The future it seems is not very bright.
Along comes a film…
The recent surprise hit, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, has struck a chord with the public. Here is a movie (I highly recommend seeing it) that turns the gloom and doom into something fun and exciting. This is a space film that gives a bit of hope. It is light hearted and carefree. Space is the backdrop to ordinary people doing incredible things. The movie magicians at Marvel created a film that resonates with its audience. This is having a rather interesting effect on the public’s view of the space community.
Star Wars, Take Two
We have been here before. The world seemed bleak and dreary once upon a time in the past, as it does again now. The war in Vietnam was a disaster, the Watergate scandal brought a U.S. President to his knees. The oil embargos had left many trapped in a dour reality. And then ‘Star Wars’ came out. It brought something the public had never seen before. It resonated the idea that space travel was something that could be done. It really did bring a sense of hope to public. The idea that people could live and work in space (despite the fantasy of it all) struck a chord. The world seemed a bit brighter after you saw the film.
Now, I am not saying that the world will change by watching a movie. Far from it. But a movie like ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, just like “Star Wars” before it, touches a nerve. They both bring back the idea that we can reach for the stars. This is where we belong. Living and working among the Cosmos.
Maybe it is just coincidence that the news about space seems to be looking up. The public is recognizing all the work that is going on – from building space craft to rovers on Mars to robots around comets. It seems Space is ‘cool’ again. And that is something to feel upbeat about.
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment Group