The cheering and clapping yesterday as the Space Shuttle was flown low over Washington D.C. reminded me how differently the country sees space now compared to when I was a kid.
I was nuts about the space program for a few years as a kid, about grades 2-5, but it's not on my 7-year old nephew's radar at all as far as I can tell. In school the teacher would roll a television into the classroom so we could watch Apollo launches, I still remember watching the first moon landing on a black-and-white television late at night, and I took over a corner of our living room for a place to set my books and models about outer space and the space program.
I was so excited about the first moon landing that I have a clear memory of writing my name and the date "July 20, 1969" in wet cement when I helped my grandfather put a post up on his farm, thinking it would always record the day of that event.
But my nephew isn't especially interested in space at all -- only to the except that he's interested in everything. He loves Mythbusters, and even went to one of the host's tour shows in Portland, and has a mobile of the planets hanging in his room. But he's more obsessed with soccer and lacrosse and transformer models and chess and getting his hands on his mom's laptop or the video games she limits.
There's nothing wrong with these. I just never would have expected that U.S. forays into space would have peaked with the Apollo moon landings -- at least, the human side of it.
Here's a tweet that seems to sum it all up, via the Guardian: