As I type this I have the NASA channel tuned in to watch the final trek of Space Shuttle Atlantis as it is prepared for its final touchdown from space. As the Space Shuttle program ends you cannot help but feel there is a void in this country as for the first time since the 1960s we will have no means to put a man into space. The only government agency that really inspires and awes people will be relegated to launching satellites and viewing space from telescopes and computer screens. I realize the space shuttle program had to end as the shuttles themselves were aging and their drawbacks even more apparent after the Columbia disaster. NASA had a new space vehicle in development that was called constellations, but the funding was cut early in the Obama Presidency. At the earliest a private entity may have a means to put a man into space by 2015, and NASA may have a some way of doing the same by 2020, but space exploration as a whole will be at a standstill until then. Personally I want to see space even more aggressively explored. We need to get our bearings together and learn new ways to cope with the challenges of space so that we can put men back on the moon, and maybe even start a permanent base there. I hope in my lifetime I will see a man walk on Mars and I really do hope that that man will be an American, but at this juncture its hard to say. Even the James Webb Space Telescope which is supposed to replace Hubble is now on the chopping block. The only area of the government I would like to see sustained and increased funding is NASA because they really do benefit this country in ways most people cannot imagine. The space coast in Florida is about to undergo a fundamental transformation as 10,000 jobs will end as a result of this space program ending. A collection of some of the greatest minds in this country will be forced to go elsewhere in order to have an income devastating the local economy and creating a brain drain vacuum the area has not ever experienced before. At this point all I can do is salute the men and women who made the space shuttle program possible. These shuttles were the pride of this country, and they deserve it. No other craft has put as much payload into orbit as the space shuttles have. No other craft offered the kind of flexibility the space shuttles offered. For the near term we will be buying seats aboard Russian space craft if we want to put an American into space and that my friends is a true shame. I sincerely hope we get back into the space business because at this point in the history of humanity the surface has yet to be scratched in terms of what is possible and what we can accomplish if we apply ourselves in the decades and centuries to come in space exploration.