Reaching for the Stars

So Genesis (search) is junk.

America's vaulted attempt at understanding the origin of the sun and this solar system crashes under the Utah desert sun after something went wrong with its parachute system.

Now all I'm hearing is what a failure it is. I couldn't disagree more.

Hey, I'm bummed out too the thing crashed and that maybe scientists might not get their hands on billions of so-called charged atoms from the solar system. That's not a sure thing, by the way. They just might.

But here's what is a sure thing: Genesis collected three years' worth of data on the origin of our little part of the universe. It radioed a lot of that back, filling rooms full of computers and legions of imaginations. And all the while becoming essentially a man-made planet: Spying the universe that made "our" planet.

The mission didn't end well, but in my book, it comported all of humankind well.

You know, we have a habit in this country of focusing on the bad and not remembering the good. The good of a mission that's already given scientists treasure troves of research on how we came to be and part of a space program that has known its tragedies, but should appreciate far more its triumphs: landing men on the moon, structures on mars and capsules outside our solar system.

People have died in the pursuit of that knowledge and capsules have crashed. But if we're to focus on the bad, we owe it to those who've toiled to remember the good. Finding water on parts of this planet we thought didn't have it and maybe the underpinnings of life on places we didn't think could support it.

Me? I've just had it with those who say we don't have the right stuff anymore.

Genesis took a mighty leap… then crashed. But I'd much sooner celebrate our species' attempting that leap than never leaving the bonds of earth at all.

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