To Sadly Go Where No Man Goes Anymore

An endeavor is an attempt, an effort to strive for something you are not sure you will achieve, but that you hope you will.

To “endeavor” is to take a shot, give it a whirl, or have a go at it.

It’s to try.

What feels like a lifetime ago already, the United States was sending Space Shuttles to the stars on a yearly basis. We were boldly going where no man has gone before. (You know what I mean.)

And now we just…don’t do that anymore.

What happened to our Space Program?

A few days ago, I went to the California Science Center. There appeared to be a ton of cool things to do there, but Danny and I went there specifically to see the retired Space Shuttle Endeavor. Honestly, we skipped out on seeing a bunch of cool exhibits. (We seriously ignored everything else in there to go see the Shuttle. Though to be fair to us, we had just spent several hours already at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. We were almost museum-ed out at that point.)

The Shuttle is located in this warehouse-like building with no fanfare or blandishments accompanying your entrance into it. You just walk in, and Endeavor is right there. But it honestly doesn’t need any fanfare. Endeavor dominates the space it resides in. It captures your eyes the moment you see it. It captures your heart the moment you stand next to it. It captures your imagination the moment you picture it in space.

My first thought upon seeing Endeavor was that I couldn’t believe something so fragile could have broken through our atmosphere multiple times. My next thought was why in the world I believed that something larger than an orca was fragile.

But that was my first impression. The texture of Endeavor looks akin to cardboard, with the ridges and slight scoring to match. And just like anything you might dare to pit against gravity, it’s been worn down a bit.

But goddamn, it’s awe-inspiring.

You don’t really consider the magnitude of words like “awe” until you come into contact with something of that nature. Go ahead and look up “awe’s” definition. It’s a grander word than you might have been led to believe.

Framed pictures of the crews of every Shuttle sent into space lined the walls of the warehouse. It was like the history of the Space Shuttle Program was looped around Endeavor. This belt of a timeline felt impossibly sad.

What we saw in that warehouse came from one of the pinnacles of American, nay, human endeavor.

And it’s in a fucking warehouse.

Granted, it’s a nice warehouse where people can come and appreciate what our forebears have accomplished, but it’s still a large, empty building where Endeavor can gather dust.

The Space Program and its history deserve more than to just dwindle. As Danny put it, “Instead of asking us where we’re going to go next, it just reminds us of what we used to do.”

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