Charles Krauthammer

The most dismaying part of this brouhaha is not the tipsy Captain Kirk or two, but the fact that space makes the news today only as mini-scandal or farce. It all started out as a great romance in the 1960s, yet by the 1970s -- indeed, the morning after the 1969 moon landing -- romance had turned to boredom.

When the Apollo 13 astronauts gave their live broadcast from space, not a single network carried it. No interest. Until, that is, the explosion that nearly killed them, at which point the world tuned in with rapt and morbid attention.

Well, we are now in stage three of our space odyssey: mockery and amusement. The last big space story was the crazed lady astronaut on her diapered drive to a fatal-attraction rendezvous.

It's hard to entirely blame this state of affairs on a fickle public. Blame also belongs to the idiot politicians who decided 30 years ago to abandon the moon and send us on a pointless and endless journey into low Earth orbit. The Bush administration has sensibly called an end to this nonsense and committed us to going back to the moon and, ultimately, Mars. If his successors don't screw it up, within 10 years NASA will have us back to where we belong -- on other worlds.

At which point, we'll remember why we did this in the first place. And when we once again thrill to seeing humans on the moon -- this time, making it their home -- we won't much care whether the extra bounce in their gait is the effect of the one-sixth gravity or a touch of moonshine. Charles Krauthammer's e-mail address is letters(at) (c) 2007, The Washington Post Writers Group

Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.

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