01 Nov 2001 U.S. Space Program is Black America’s Salvation, by B.B. Robinson, Ph.D.
There is a saying, “Among the greatest human urges are the realization of fame and fortune.” Fame because most people want to be remembered fondly, and often, during their lifetime as well as after they die. Fortune because it takes resources to accomplish life goals, and wealth is usually a key to obtaining required resources.
In reality, however, fame and fortune are secondary since survival is the real starting point. Have African-Americans confused their priorities in this regard? Have we focused too much on fame and fortune and not enough on survival? If Earth as we know it ceased to exist, what would be our best option for survival?
Man has been on the planet for a long time, and we are likely to be here for the foreseeable future. However, the convergence of certain events could make it difficult for survival on Earth. An alternative is for man to transition to a life in space. To what extent are African-Americans preparing to be a part of a transition to life in space, which could ensure our survival as part of the human family?
The U.S. spends billions on the space program each year. The International Space Station appears to be progressing smoothly as we hear about its physical development and about the astronauts who are making it possible through regular the news media reports. Have you been paying close attention to what has been occurring high above our heads? More important, what have you done to ensure that your genes survive if man does not survive on Earth? What can you do?
First, you can become more familiar with the U.S. space program. Visit the www.nasa.gov Internet website and fill yourself in on the latest developments. You will learn that the fiscal year 2001 budget for the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (the agency that runs the space program) was $14.3 billion. Also, you will learn that at least four International Space Station missions are planned for the coming year. You will find that, currently, there are 149 astronauts in the program and 17 candidates seeking to become astronauts. More importantly, you will discover that there are six African-American astronauts in the space program today, along with two candidates.
What else can you do? You can urge your family’s children to choose fields that can lead to careers as astronauts. While you are on the website, if you read the biographies of the African-American astronauts who are in the space program, you will find that most have backgrounds in engineering and medicine. Moreover, you can do what the Silicon Valley Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. did this past summer: It sponsored 22 young African-American females as participants in the U.S. Space Camp in California. At a minimum, you can make it a goal to send one child in your family to Space Camp at some point during their childhood or teenage years.
Clearly, space is an alternative for man’s survival should Earth become uninhabitable. African-Americans can ensure their survival by become full participants in the space program in the coming years. Interestingly, two excellent side-benefits accrue to those who join the space program: Fame and fortune.
(B.B. Robinson, Ph.D. is a member of the National Advisory Council of the African-American leadership network Project 21 and an economist. He can be reached at can be reached at [email protected].)
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.