This is a milestone much more significant than whether or not the USA strikes Syria, or how big the flood is in Colorado, or who wins American Idol this year. Elvis only left the building — Voyager has left the solar system.
It’s a piece of 1960s/1970s technology, and has taken decades to accomplish this feat, but it’s right up there with fire, the wheel, the aqueduct, beer, the atom bomb, and men on the moon. It’s the kind of thing that might trigger Vulcans — or the real-universe equivalents — to bypass the prime directive.
Now, chances are that this little old dying spacecraft will vanish into the cosmos, lost to us and never again seen by intelligent beings. But that’s not important right now. It’s out there and we put it there. Maybe other alien civilizations have put similar little specks of themselves out into the deep, dark night, and we’ll miss them, too. It’s a first giant step, perhaps preparing a humongous leap for an entire species.
There are those who tell us to be in the moment, and not to get caught up in ambitious, long-term plans that may suck our energy from doing good today. I say phooey to them! I can sniff the flowers and lend a helping hand today, while also promoting and appreciating the human effort to be part of a bigger universe. Humans are explorers. Celebrate that!
Take just one minute. Put your hands on your lap. Look away from the computer. Look at the ceiling. Think about, and appreciate, that a spacecraft your fellow humans built is more than a light week away from its origin, on its inevitable way out into the deep space of the Milky Way. A message in a bottle, with its gold record saying hello in all our languages, and more. We could be some other civilization’s revelation.
We have taken a step we cannot untake.
Even if we never take another, we are starfarers.
For all our failings, take pride in that.
A gallery of images of the Voyager 1 & 2 Missions: