In the exploration of a world consisting of island continents surrounded by vast oceans, it is not difficult to understand why explorers have often been men of the sea. Throughout history, the great seafaring nations, using their navies and maritime fleets, have predominated in the great discoveries. The United States and, in particular, the U. S. Navy have played a major role in probing the earth's frontiers. It is appropriate, then, that a select team of naval officers, serving as astronauts with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is playing such an important part in the opening of space. In the tradition of the many Navy explorers who have preceded them, these individuals, along with their Air Force, Marine, and civilian counterparts, are contributing to the greatest outward drive men have yet undertaken.
From its inception in 1959, the astronaut corps has received widespread publicity, and, while the program itself has often come under fire, many of the men involved have become national heroes. For they have instilled a new sense of adventure into a culture that often seems totally preoccupied with counting its fears.
* Much will depend on the outcome of the decision, reached during President Nixon’s visit this year to the Soviet Union, for a rendezvous and docking mission, involving three U. S. Astronauts and three Soviet cosmonauts, to take place sometime in 1975.