During the height of NASA’s shuttle program, some commentators occasionally asked the question: Is space travel becoming too routine? Had we stopped paying enough attention? I think they were nostalgic for the heady days of the Apollo program when every flight was an event, every mission marked a milestone, and ticker tape parades for astronauts were the norm. We’ve gotten to a point where orbital missions don’t even make the evening news.
Every time I’ve heard this question—Is space flight becoming too routine?—I think: But that’s exactly what we want! We want space travel to become entirely routine, so we don’t even think of it anymore! Aren’t we aiming for a point where we, the ordinary public, don’t pay any more attention to the launch of an interplanetary ship than we do the daily flights leaving our local airport? Why yes, I’m spending a couple of weeks on holiday on the Moon, I’ve always wanted to try low-gravity hang gliding. Excellent, sounds like an amazing time, upload the pictures. Or, “I’m going to study abroad at Ceres Academy, Mom!” “All right dear, have fun!”