Space exploration, like no other human achievement, stirs something from deep within us.
It ignites our imagination, elevates our gaze, realises our dreams and unifies our species. We look into space for something greater than ourselves.
Recall President Kennedy's bold vision when addressing Congress on May 25, 1961: "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."
Then at Rice University on September 12, 1962: "The eyes of the world now look into space, to the Moon and to the planets beyond."
Recall the world's unbridled joy when, on July 20, 1969, the first part of that vision was realised and Neil Armstrong spoke those immortal words: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
Such was the enormity of the event that it left veteran journalist Walter Cronkite speechless when he confirmed the landing. Listening to this highlights package of his coverage and watching his reaction is like a shot of B12 optimism for the most world-weary person on YouTube clip here:
We now continue on the journey to fulfill the second part of President Kennedy's vision: to venture to the planets beyond, as New Horizons visits Pluto.
The launch of New Horizons in 2006
Close up view of Pluto.
It is another astonishing human achievement and underscores why it is important that we are always conscious of the enormous benefit that fixing our gaze celestially, rather than exclusively terrestrially, has on our society.
Space exploration stretches us intellectually, broadens us emotionally and deepens us spiritually.
It illustrates to us what we are capable of when we unleash our boundless curiosity, fervent creativity and indefatigable determination.
It shows us, ultimately, how much humans can be.