Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Should we fear the ‘Final Frontier?’

    The heavens have captured humanity’s imagination throughout history. Every civilization, from the Greeks to Aztecs, has looked up at the night sky with wonder and longing. 
    This curiosity has driven us to great heights as we’ve sought to better understand the vast universe we are a part of. In a little under 60 years we have gone from Sputnik to permanent, manned space stations and, despite setbacks in funding, space programs across the globe continue to plan missions to farthest reaches of our solar system and beyond. But none of these are quite as exciting as the prospect of “space tourism.”
    Though it sounds very much like science fiction, commercial space flight is a fast approaching reality. Private companies such as Space Adventures have already sent tourists into orbit, and other programs plan on using space stations like hotels for the cosmically curious.
    But the recent crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo has put such ventures under extreme scrutiny. 
    Virgin Galactic, a space tourism company under the multi-industry Virgin Group, has already booked hundreds of commercial spaceflights for early next year, and was performing a test flight of their space plane last Friday. The launch was successful, but the small plane broke apart upon re-entry into earth’s atmosphere, impacting outside of Bakersfield California. 
    Though the crash is still under investigation it appears a pre-mature deployment of the feathering systems used to slow the plane’s descent caused the disintegration, and not a failure in the fuel or combustions systems, as early reports suggested.
    Co-pilot, Michael Alsbury, was killed in the crash, and pilot, Peter Siebold, sustained serious injuries but survived after managing to deploy his parachute.
    In the wake of such a catastrophe it’s only natural for us to be critical of such ventures. There is a always a degree of risk involved in humanity’s ventures into space, and the history of space exploration is riddled with failures and tragedies. But it is also full of great success, and that is a fact we would do well not to forget.
    If we allow such fears to get in the way our reach will forever be limited. In their statement following the crash, Virgin Galactic expressed a similar sentiment, “Everything we do is to pursue the vision of accessible and democratized space — and to do it safely. Just like early air or sea travel, it is hard and complicated, but we believe that a thriving commercial space industry will have far reaching benefits for humanity, technology and research for generations to come.”

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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