In Praise of Space Exploration

This is not your father's NASA anymore. The right stuff is now the right gear, the fastest, cheapest and supposedly better way to do with millions of dollars, what used to cost billions, and get private industry involved wherever possible.

Such as: high resolution commercial spy satellite photos from space, that anyone can buy. Also now on sale, high tech, low cost ultra-light flying drones that can soar to 100,000 feet, on the verge of space, using 14 solar powered engines for reconnaissance flights -- say, over disaster sights, or enemy missile sites.

At Cape Canaveral, Florida, recently they made the way for the future by obliterating the past. Historic launchpad 41, used to launch the Viking spacecraft mission to Mars, and Voyage to the outer planets, was blown up to make way for a new launch pad for aerospace company Lockheed Martin.

As this was happening in Florida, hundreds of astronomers were in Italy, birthplace of Renaissance era astronomer Galileo. They were mulling over the latest results from the Galileo spacecraft mission to Jupiter, which has found some especially interesting stuff on Jupiter's moon, Europa. All of which reminds us anew that the exploration by humans of the cosmos is one of THE great stories of the 20th century, and will be for centuries, even millennia to come.