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“Ah, But A Man’s Reach Should Exceed His Grasp, Or What’s A Heaven For?”

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The quote is from Robert Browning’s poem “Andrea del Sarto.” Many of mankind’s greatest achievements have been accomplished by people who refused to give up simply because their goal seemed to be out of reach.

Edison Light Bulb
Edison Light Bulb | Photo by

One of our greatest inventors, Thomas Alva Edison, had the tenacity to never give up. When he struggled so long to make a functioning light bulb, but failed miserably over and over again he made a statement that has been used to show his unfailing determination. “I didn’t fail. I just found 2,000 ways not to make a light bulb; I only needed to find one way to make it work.” Edison did just that.

Wright Flyer
Wilbur Wright As Pilot In Wright Flyer | Photo by

I’m sure you don’t believe that Wilbur and Orville Wright succeeded the first time they tried to get their “Wright Flyer” off the ground without having to overcome problems.

Rocket Launch Failure
Atlas-Centaur 5 Rocket Launch Failure 3/2/65 | Photo by

If you ask anyone who has struggled while attempting to attain their goal how they succeeded  and most will say tenacity. They just wouldn’t give up no matter what. You might remember that in a previous article I discussed the troubles our space program had at it’s inception. Too many of our rockets either exploded on the launchpad or soon after liftoff, but we didn’t give up. President John F. Kennedy explained in a public speech that we would have a man on the moon before the decade ended and with the hard work of a multitude of people we accomplished that task.

Cassini probe
Cassini Space probe Launch | Photo by NASA

The Browning quote is just as valid today as it was when he first wrote it. It doesn’t seem possible, but we have finally reached way out in space with the Cassini spacecraft traveling to the planet Saturn in an effort to study both the planet and its magnificent rings. Here is a video of the launch from NASA. The long journey began with the launch of the Cassini orbiter and the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe on October 15, 1997. That’s 20 years ago! The journey to Saturn took 7 years.

Huygan Probe
Huygens Probe Landing On Titan | Image by through Youtube

According to NASA “The European Space Agency’s Huygens probe was a unique, advanced spacecraft and a crucial part of the overall mission to explore Saturn. The probe was about 9 feet wide (2.7 meters) and weighed roughly 700 pounds (318 kilograms). It was built like a shellfish: a hard shell protected its delicate interior from high temperatures during the 2.25 hour descent through the atmosphere of Saturn’s giant moon Titan.” It landed on Titan January 14, 2005 as the parachute deployed to give it a relatively soft landing.The probe sent data and pictures back to earth that scientists continue to study.

Cassini Diving
Cassini Space Probe Entering “Big Empty” | Image by through Getty Images

The Cassini spacecraft made its first of scheduled 22 dives through the 1,200 mile wide space between the planet and its rings on April 26, 2017. The scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) were expecting the craft would encounter a lot of dust, but the area they call “the big empty” contained only fine  dust particles in a much lower density than expected. The dive took Cassini to within 1,900 miles of Saturn’s cloud tops. A second dive was made on May 2nd. The culmination of the trip will be when Cassini is scheduled to crash into Saturn on September 15, 1027. I’m sure the pictures Cassini sends back as that event unfolds will be spectacular.

Details Of Cassini Spacecraft
Cassini Spacecraft Details | Image by

So we have proven that our reach does exceed our grasp as we keep trying to go farther away from earth to explore what and possibly even who is out there.

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