"There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly, and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, seven hundred and fifty miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man could ever pass. They called it the sound barrier." -- opening from The Right Stuff
Yesterday we lost Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. This year is also the 50th anniversary of the first American to orbit the planet when John Glenn did it on February 20, 1962 as part of Project Mercury, from which the quote above applies, all though it was really about Chuck Yeager.
I was born in 1972 so all I've ever known is us sending astronauts into space and our ability to reach the moon. NASA is nowhere near the program it used to be and does not inspire the national attention or imagination as it once did, even with the recent landing on Mars, and perhaps that is a tragedy.
There is something special about having a frontier to explore, where there are still unknowns and discoveries to be made, and as Gene Rodenberry memorably wrote, "Space, the final frontier...."