Supporting astronaut’s legacy of exploration

Eugene A. Cernan, Commander, Apollo 17 salutes the flag on the lunar surface during extravehicular activity (EVA) on NASA's final lunar landing mission. The Lunar Module "Challenger" is in the left background behind the flag and the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) also in background behind him. While astronauts Cernan and Schmitt descended in the Challenger to explore the Taurus-Littrow region of the Moon, astronaut Ronald E. Evans, Command Module pilot, remained with the Command/Service Module (CSM) "America" in lunar-orbit.

Eugene Cernan held a prestigious title that no one else shares. He was the last astronaut to walk on the moon on Dec. 7, 1972. His zest for further exploration and knowledge of uncharted territory is exactly what the current scientific community needs. Cernan believed that continued space exploration was crucial for the future generations of this nation and was fired up when NASA ended the space shuttle program in 2011. He testified to urge the government not to give up on space exploration and expressed how vital it would be for America in the years to come. He was particularly critical during former President Obama’s administration’s decision to end the pursuit of the Constellation program, which aimed to send astronauts to the moon and Mars, among other feats.

The decision to end the Constellation program halted not only new discoveries but also hindered the children of the future. Decisions like this are what discourage young science-loving children from being steadfast in pursuing their dreams. They hinder the tremendous potential of this nation’s brilliant minds to reach new heights. America is driven by its people’s various talents and aspirations, which should always be stimulated and never taken away. Whether it is atmospheric science, engineering or the arts, if we lose our passions we will lose what makes this country special and forfeit the example we set on a global scale.

Cernan’s death last week, at the age of 82, was a wake-up call for the scientific community. That is why so many people are now calling on Congress to reinstate the space shuttle program and begin funding as soon as possible. Like Cernan and so many Americans, I believe that scientific exploration of any uncharted territory is extremely important. We should never stop trying to learn more than we already know. That is the epitome of the American heart and spirit. We would never have accomplished certain monumental American goals without the thirst for knowledge that Cernan had. We should always have this nation’s progress at the forefront of our minds, and that includes space exploration because our children and grandchildren should know that there is so much more out there to be seen than just our little planet.

Nicole Macias is a freshman majoring in English.


Featured image courtesy Flickr user NASA on The Commons