Astronauts are cool, and space exploration is important

Feb 28, 2012

At the Duke School of Medicine this afternoon, Dean Nancy Andrews, MD, PhD, and the Medical Scientist Training Program sponsored a talk by NASA astronaut and M.D. Anderson musculoskeletal oncologist Robert Satcher, MD, PhD.

Showing photos of the shuttle Atlantis, NASA training facilities and eve the shuttle’s toilets, Satcher regaled us with his course to the stars. His main point was that we need more space exploration: “We haven’t been to another planet yet.” His slide showing the relative annual budgets of U.S. defense spending and other expenditures was funny if not a bit horrifying — Americans spend more on Halloween each year than the space agency.

I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a boy. I hope my son and daughters get the chance to explore the heavens. They’ll get no candy next October!

Anton Zuiker

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