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Jamaal Carryl

Student Letter to U.S. Congressman Amo Houghton

By: Jamaal Carryl
College Now Course - SCI 1

December 2, 2003

Mr. Amo Houghton
1111 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20525
Phone: 202-225-3161

Dear Mr. Houghton:

My name is Jamaal Carryl, and I am writing this letter to address my concern with space exploration. After watching the unfortunate and demeaning event of the Columbia Space Shuttle, I have been reading and hearing about possible changes to the Space program. The biggest possible change, and the one from which I grasp has come under debate, is the change of the exploration process from manned to unmanned. After reviewing the details, I would like to voice my support for manned space exploration.

After watching the innovative and captivating film, October Sky, the topic of space exploration has in some ways confirmed my support for manned flights. As I watched the film that saw a boy by the name of Homer, fight, change his views about a nerd, and fight the opinions of his hometown, all in the name of flying a rocket into the sky, it confirmed for me that sometimes just the experience of doing something is often worth the risk. In Homer's case, the risk was to lose the respect and love of his dad and town people. Nevertheless, he looked at the risk and did it anyway because it also contained a life change experience than he knew he would treasure forever. This is just like manned space exploration. The few that get to go to space know ahead of time the risk of losing, in this case their lives, but many do it anyway because they know the experience would be something that would change their lives forever. In both cases, Homer or people could just have observed these things, unmanned shuttles, a rocket on TV, but they knew the experience just would not be the same.

For most of the early history of the world rulers, historians, scientist and even the average person, have often wondered what the skies above us contain. Moreover, for many of those people in early history they ended up going their entire lives without the opportunity to find out. However, for people after the 1960's, this was no longer just a dream or wonder. Today, only a select few people get to go to space and explore what lies beyond the skies of their cities. This is my first reason why I think we should have manned space exploration. It is a good opportunity for people to learn about what is out there, but more importantly, it is the experience of being out there. The opportunity to see different planets, stars, comets, is an experience that no high priced advance technology can bring to such a magnitude as being up there and close to it. I am aware that an unmanned shuttle would be able to pick up the same basic information and report it back to us; it would not provide the experience that many have died dreaming of, even if it is just for a select few.

To some extent, I guess it puts the question on the table of whether or not an experience of a lifetime is worth the risk in loss of life. Pondering the question, I have to say yes. Why, you might ask? Because these people knew going in what the risks were and decided to stay committed to it anyway. They felt that the experience was something that they really wanted, and for some, many have prayed and dreamed for. While it doesn't mean they don't value their life, it means that they would be happy to die for what they desire a lot. It is just like our great national military. The proud men and women of our country many times join the ranks because they want the experience of taking part in the various things it offers. However, it comes with the same risk as the manned space exploration program, loss of life. Knowing the risk, our proud men and women sign on the dotted line for "X" amount of years anyway. Also, looking at the money issue, while space exploration costs a lot, it results often do not involve as much death, and has more wide spread support. The military spread huge amounts of money, and it results in many deaths most times, and often does not have wide spread support. If we could just look to advance the shuttle, perhaps by making them reusable, we could save money that way. So, if the military isn't under debate, why should manned space flights be? After all, you will find that more than double the amount of people die in the military during a war or operation in another country than in and space accidents. Perfect example, seven people died in the tragic Columbia space shuttle accident. Compare that to as many as 4-12 soldiers that die every day in the current post war efforts in Iraq.

With that said, I, Jamaal Carryl, urge you, I beg you, to leave the space program the way it is with manned flights. I hope that my views and other information above will not only show just how strongly I feel about the matter, but also how others felt in history and why they thought the experience was worth the risk. I know money is a big issue and one that I did not address much, and that is because I feel that you cannot measure everything by a dollar sign. I am aware that manned exploration is a tremendous expense, but some things are worth spending for. This is one of them. After all, look at people here in America. We buy huge SUV's with big TV's that burn money as fast as we get it, just for the sake of having an SUV. The manned program is something that I think we can squeeze in.


Jamaal Carryl