Superb article from The Atlantic, exploring the International Space Station.
Space makes us impatient. We’re impatient for things to go smoothly, as if spaceflight should already work as infallibly as a flight to Dallas (witness the surprise in October when a supply rocket headed to the Space Station exploded 15 seconds after launch). And we’re impatient for a return on investment, as if going to space couldn’t possibly be worthwhile unless it rapidly becomes a commercial bonanza.
We fly in space because of human ambition, because nothing tests our ability and character like stretching ourselves beyond what we can do now. And we fly in space because space is the eighth continent. Thomas Jefferson didn’t simply make the Louisiana Purchase; he dispatched Lewis and Clark to tramp the terrain and report back. We fly in space as curious explorers now because one day we may need to fly in space, as miners or settlers. The arguments for a manned space program are familiar. But their familiarity doesn’t reduce their force.
Via Daring Fireball.