This morning’s safe touchdown of the space shuttle Atlantis is the end of an era and the day’s top news story. Why are we fascinated by space, and why are we willing to spend billions of dollars to explore it? The original Star Trek television series lasted only three seasons, but developed a cult following and spawned five additional TV series and eleven feature films. Introduced in the middle of the 1960s social revolution, the series showed a potential future where races with far more differences than those being confronted in that era’s civil rights movement lived in relative harmony. Lieutenant Uhura depicted a black female officer at a time when few women were in positions of leadership. Space is an opportunity for a fresh start, a place where our human flaws might possibly be overcome, a place of hope and peace. Sounds a bit like how many philosophers and theologians describe heaven. When we set our hopes and aspirations upward as we look to the sky, are we really yearning for some version of heaven?
“Make it so.” –Jean Luc Picard