Flight has fascinated man for hundreds of years, starting as fantasies of winged people taking to the air like birds, to the development of balloons suspended with gas that is lighter than air, to self propelled air craft that were able to part with the earth's surface under it's own power, to today, where aircraft can fly themselves arguably better than humans can control an aircraft. I look to the sky, like so many others, and see the final frontier.
My interest in space and, in particular, flight, started in conjunction of my dad and the 1960s original series Star Trek. My dad, Curtis Lee, is a licensed general aviation flight instructor, meaning he has the credentials and hours to instruct other pilots with the desire to acquire a general aviation pilot's licensed. It's some seriously cool stuff, my dad has owned and part owned two planes in his lifetime, almost purchased an airport, and has taught many people how to fly small aircraft solo. I never understood why my dad loved flying so much until I took my first flight when I was 10. It is so incredible looking down at the earth from 10.000ft in the air. Flight has taught man to look at the world in a whole new way from a point of view that had never been seen before a little over 100 years ago. I knew I wanted to be a part of it, but I also knew I wouldn't be able to join the world of aviation directly. I couldn't make flying into a career for many reasons, one being the fear of losing the love of flying due to normalcy. I don't ever want to forget how flying makes me feel now, like freedom, not like a pay check. So, for a while, flying fell off my radar, until my junior year of high school. My interest in flight was sparked again by the popular 1960s original series Star Trek. Nerdy? Perhaps. Star Trek was originally supposed to be a spoof series, a joke about the future, but the show attracted a bigger and more dedicated fan base than they ever imagine. The show grew to be more compelling rather than humorous, personally I think people wanted to believe in the future that Star Trek existed in: a world of peace and equality. This harmony allowed people to focus their attention on the pursuit of knowledge, specifically space. Thought Star Trek is still just a tv show, what was supposed to be fictional back in the 60s is actually quite feasible today. It all begins with flight.
When George Bailey suggested to his lovely lady friend Mary that he would lasso the moon for her, Mary would have suddenly had a lot more competition. Since the end of the Apollo missions in 1976, NASA's federal funding has slowly been cut from 1.35% of federal spending to less than 0.6%. Along side the dwindling budget leaving spacecraft and telescopes alike to quiver in their heat shields, NASA has also struggled to really find direction in their new post shuttle era. This does not mean, however, that space has been forgotten by all. Though the interest in shuttle launches and a lot of space related topics has somewhat lost its sparkle the in the general public's eye, there may be the crest of the dawn of a new age coming apon us: the race to live in space. Living in space is not a new concept, the Biosphere 2 experiment proves as much, but the interest in private organizations have begun to spawn from the retreat of NASA. Private shuttle rides to the rim of the atmosphere are being provided to a select few willing to pay the astronaumical price that is well worth the experience.