Jun 092007
 

Running three months late, the space shuttle Atlantis, carrying seven astronauts and a $367 million set of solar panels, roared to life and raced into orbit today, hot on the trail of the international space station.

STS-117 Shuttle Report

Yes indeed and surprise, surprise. The shuttle Atlantis left the ground today for a planned eleven day stay in space, most of it docked to the International Space Station where another power generation truss will be installed later in the week. From tonight’s news reports, you’d never have known. Seven human beings riding what has to be the most lethal of machines into the most hostile of environments where a single poor decision means death, and yet, we here on the ground, scurrying around with our small concerns and insular lives know nothing of the event, and could probably care less.

At ground level, we have far more pressing concerns, such as the G8 farce, rain and flooding in New South Wales, politics, genocide in Africa, wars in Asia minor and the Middle East, etcetera, yadda, yadda. Oh, yes…..let’s not forget the distress of Paris Hilton. The fact that humanity still undertakes manned spaced flights, that the International Space Station continues to grow in size and capability, feeding our collective knowledge of the planet we live on and the way we’re trashing it seems not to rate a mention any longer.

We, the human species Homo sapiens sapiens, have become a very self-centred and insular species. We’ve lost the focus we had a mere forty years ago. We’d much rather concentrate on our own small concerns, or worse, those of some self-possessed, flat-chested, painted blonde bimbo who broke the law of her land, then weeps over the miniscule price levied in retribution.

I find myself asking more and more these days. What’s more important? Celebrity hysteria or scientific endeavour? Who’s the more foolish? Military pawns pushed around the global chess board in constant efforts to destroy other military pawns, or those who volunteer to work in space for the betterment of the species?

We’ve lost all track of what’s important. I wonder if we ever really knew.