Humanity has been launching rockets for thousands of years, as weapons, as entertainment, and most recently as vehicles. There are varying emotional reactions to all these events, but the latter is by far the most striking.
The launch of a space vehicle is an astonishingly emotional experience for all who witness it, even via telecommunications rather than in person. Certainly part of it is from the long build-up, the drama of 'will it or won't it go today'? The need to check and recheck, to be absolutely certain that this fire-breathing beast will perform its best during its few brief minutes of life and place its precious cargo where it needs to be is drama by definition, and nobody can escape its allure.
Then there is fire, and noise, and the slow majesty of this incredible creation of the hearts and minds and efforts of humanity leaving our world.Watch the crowd at such a moment. Some are cursing, some are praying with clasped hands. Some are frozen at the sight, transfixed, mumbling benedictions under their breath. Many have tears rolling down their cheeks. Many scream "Go!!! Go!!! GO!!!" as the rocket begins to pick up speed, executes its roll program, and heads downrange to the silence and the blackness, finally disappearing into the sky as if it never was, as the smoke settles and quiet returns to the launch site. All who witness this are touched, forever.
Why do we behave this way? Nobody ever sheds tears for a fireworks display.
Something deep within us knows how important this all is. Something inside us all longs to go there too, and cheers on the rockets that symbolically transport our dreams and collective future to new places, for our posterity, for our survival. We know where we need to be, someday...whether we know it or not.
Editor's note: Dear Nick, it is great to be back and to count with your passionate words...good to see you have made your homework... ;-)