"We have our minutes cut/ We lose our feelings but/ That's what the movies show/ This is where stories go/ Stars we don't want to reach/ Scars we don't want to stitch/ Go where we haven't been/ Fly away, time machine." Tatu, "Outer Space"

“Political and cost-cutting measures have resulted in the end of NASA’s manned space program. As a result, we will have to rely on commercial spaceflight companies. I was originally against the idea of having commercial companies lead us in space, but have since realized it’s better to have them … than not have anything at all…”  - Heather Smith

When I was a pre-teen, my parents took me to Kennedy Space Center. I was convinced at that moment what I wanted more than anything else was to be a Systems Analyst for NASA.  We’ve invented robots to clean our laundry, cars that park themselves and computers that can beat humans on Jeopardy. But we can’t sustain a space program so that our children can dream of exploring space. What happened to the United States Space Program is simple: We sold it.

We sold it to corporations who will charge exorbitant amounts of money for people to now go to space on their own dollar. The elitist will see space while the gap between the rich and the poorer widens. Space exploration has become the Ivy League of dreams. Is that the America we signed up for? We privatized space exploration and we’re alright with that? While other countries are innovating and ramping their efforts we are slowly sulking into the corner as we spend our money on other people’s wars.

STEM careers, (especially for women,) are in a horrific state of decline. It’s estimated that although almost half of mathematics bachelors’ degrees are awarded to women, they only attain 27% of doctoral degrees. Moreso, in a country that touts innovation and equality, American students are ranked 22nd for science, and 31st in math. These are just some of the statistics we are seeing.

What will we become? The answer seems to be almost as scary as the initial question. When I was young, I always wore things with American Flags. It was my trademark. Sweater after sweater in the 90′s had the flag emblem or I wore navy and white. My mother bought me an Americana quilt for my room and I used it until after college. Now, everything is black and white. I love pearls and black heels, but my views and clothing have become a symptom of what I now believe. I’d feel silly wearing a flag now, because I’m not quite sure what it stands for.

We are the land of the free and the brave, as long as you have the wallet to support buying yourself the perfect life.  We don’t discriminate on race or sex or creed, as long as you marry someone of the opposite sex. And now, we’ve sold the moon, or our chance at being able to have a tangible vision that someday, we could be a part of it’s greatness.

We never answered the big question of, “What’s out there?” We simply gave up because oil and keeping the 2% of the population making money off the rest of the 98% was far too lucrative and demanding. What I can’t get over is that there was no uproar, no revolution and no demand that we keep the dreams that anyone could go to space free of financial burden and instead sold the future for a very, very, marginal profit.

Ava was snoring soundly as I peeked into her room and looked out the window. The moon didn’t seem to hold it’s promise, anymore. There will be no more astronauts from America, at least- the kind that actually go up to explore space. Can you imagine in ten years from now, looking in the history books and seeing that what was so promising was cut off so early and sold to profit the rich? I keep saying profit, because that word is now equal with, space. It’s no longer futuristic, it’s just “profitable.” If we are okay living in a society that allows Russia to laugh in our direction and say, “This is good, we’ve got this,” then I’m no longer willing to believe in the American Dream, anymore.

The American Dream isn’t tied to making money. It’s tied to making opportunities. There’s a significant difference between the two. One holds power, and one allows equal power. We’ve chosen money for far too long and now we’ll have to sleep in our dreamless beds to make up for our selfish decisions. Intelligence and capacity to learn are becoming less important qualities as money rises. We praise Jersey Shore while never watching the news. It’s funny how everything has come full circle. The American Dream is dead.

Watch history in the making. This is the Flickr Feed from the last shuttle launch: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28634332@N05/sets/72157627070789367/show/