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    NASA Career

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    A letter from Astronaut John Young

    Commander of the Apollo 16 Lunar Landing Mission:

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
    Houston, Texas 77058
    Aug. 31, 1993

    Dear Dr. Lederman:

    For more than 30 years, I have been privileged to participate in exploration and discovery in space. In our training for exploration, we learned of the fundamental discovery questions that were being asked by the scientists relating to space exploration. As a result of the great progress that has been made in those 3 decades, we now know more about ourselves, our solar system, and our place in it than we ever imagined.

    Space is home for all the particles of particle physics; however, it was particle accelerators that showed us what cause the "light flashes" that we see in space and particle accelerators will better define the allowable radiation damage that humans exploring space can tolerate.

    In early 1991, I learned about the Superconducting Supercollider (SSC) as a result of a talk I made at Waxahachie, Texas. I found that just like the machines that allow us to investigate space, the SSC is a tool for scientific discovery. We can all think of the many obvious benefits from the SSC discoveries and how those benefits might change our lives. However, if my space exploration experience is any gauge, we will probably be surprised by the particle physicists' findings.

    The greatest nation on this planet cannot afford to "ho-hum" its way into the next century with respect to its support of fundamental research. We must challenge our innovative, creative, and talented men and women. When these folks make scientific discoveries, those discoveries, as you know, are just the beginning. If humanity is going to be successful in this world, this solar system, and this galaxy, we must get smarter, faster, and apply what we learn to help us solve our present and future problems. We are lucky to live in this time where our capable people are accelerating history. When fundamental research discoveries in particle physics are made, our talented scientists and engineers will achieve the follow-on applied scientific and engineering technical advances far more swiftly than any of us might dream now.

    Mr. H.G. Wells once said, "The future is a race between education and catastrophe." Everyday we see many examples of how right he was. SSC scientific results will surely help us win that race. It is the one race we dare not lose---our race to tomorrow.

    All the best for bringing the SSC on-line.

    John Young
    Special Assistant for Engineering Operations and Safety
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