I'm all for adventuring into the unknown, and reaching beyond the stars, and terraforming Mars and all, but I'm having a hard time rousing the requisite emotions for this most recent Shuttle outing. I don't mean to say that I do not care for the astronauts or Americans in peril in space, but about the entire trip itself. Since the journey is pricey and obviously very risky -- every day we hear about a new potentially disastrous problem -- why are we doing something we've done before? There's no major breakthrough to be had with this trip, only the reassertion of the Shuttle program's usefulness, which will always be dubious to me, considering the expense involved.
By tomorrow, or the next day, or the next (or the next), the Shuttle and its crew will touch down somewhere in the Mojave Desert, they will emerge from their ship shaken but unstirred, and they will soon be trumpeted as heroes. But for the life of me, I can't figure out what they will have accomplished.
The days of flying into space to prove we can are long gone. Why don't we just skip it, keep our aims more earthly, and accomplish something great. Like alleviating poverty or feeding the hungry.