One of my great disappointments when I turned 45 was the realization that I’m very unlikely to ever visit another planet. Although the realist in me still accepts this as the most likely situation, the hopeful child/SF fan that is constantly fighting to get out is overjoyed by the discovery of Tatooine.
No, this isn’t Star Wars come to life, but it is an extra solar planet, designation Kepler-16b, found by the Kepler telescope, and its name comes from the fact that, like its fictional counterpart, it orbits two stars. I know that it’s improbable in the extreme that anyone alive now will ever visit 16b, but the mere fact that we are continuing to explore space despite our problems and challenges here on Earth makes me smile.
It’s been a good week for me when it comes to these positive items , as I belatedly discovered the fate of the US space program after the retirement of the shuttle fleet. It’s not actually news (except for those of us that rarely bother to read the news), but I think that the transition of launch vehicles to private enterprise is long overdue. Although there have been private launches of satellites from non-American locations for years, this change will hopefully inspire the competition and innovation that was, inevitably, missing from the bureaucracy of NASA. And, maybe, someday I’ll go into space.