At Democracy in America:

Last week's paper argued that we are likely looking at the end of the Space Age—the retiring shuttles being a symptom rather than a cause. I hope that proves not to be true—can the sun really set on the final frontier?—but it's certainly plausible. "Going to space is really all about the people on earth," said one of the announcers on the livestream just now. That's both the point and the problem, I think. In the future we may have to entertain ourselves on earth. "The bottom of the ocean--our ocean is much more, an infinity of times more beautiful. You know that; everyone knows that," says the wife in a Philip K. Dick story, annoyed that her husband keeps wishing to go to Mars. Alternatively, if the commercial space programmes proceed apace, the space shuttle may someday look like the Pony Express—a triumph of work and will over distance and great danger, and an endeavour that helped to undermine itself by proving what was possible.

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