By Mike RuffinI was sitting in a classroom at Gordon Grammar School in the late 1960s, reading an article in my Weekly Reader about the future of space travel. My fellow students and I were living through the era of pretty regular space missions. Our teacher would sometimes turn on the classroom’s big black-and-white television that sat atop the big stand that always looked to me as if it were ready to tip over from top heaviness so we could watch a rocket launch. If I’m remembering the context correctly’”it was a long time ago in a Barnesville far, far away, after all’”I was reading the article at about the time of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. But this article was about what might come next, and what it suggested might come next was a program that would involve spacecraft that could go into space, come back to Earth, and then do it again. In fact, the article said, these vessels would be used over and over. Plans to develop such a craft, one main purpose of which would be to transport personnel to and from a planned permanent space station, were underway.The article even had an artist’s rendering of what such a craft might look like. It was a cross between an airplane and a spacecraft. It looked a lot like what the Space Shuttle would eventually be.I was fascinated by the possibilities. I could scarcely imagine living in a time of reusable spacecraft. Well, I’”we’”now live in a time when the age of the Space Shuttle has come and gone. The first Space Shuttle launch took place in 1981, and the final Space Shuttle mission occurred in 2011.Reading that Weekly Reader in that Gordon Grammar School classroom, I thrilled over the possibility of reusable spacecraft. Now we enter the year 2020, and people of my generation have lived through the entire Space Shuttle program. The beginning of a new year offers a good opportunity to ponder the possibilities.We’ve already accomplished more than at one time seemed possible. As we go forward, let’s dream big, hope big, and then do all we can to accomplish as much good as we can.Fifty years from now, our children and grandchildren will look back and be amazed at how far their society has come. Maybe they’ll see that the better ways happened because their parents and grandparents dreamed of and worked for a better world.
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