[To] slip the surly bonds of Earth … [and] touch the face of God.
‘Cause it’s next. ‘Cause we came out of the cave. And we looked over the hill and we saw fire. And we crossed the ocean. And we pioneered the West. And we took to the sky. The history of man is hung on a timeline of exploration, and this is what’s next.
We go for the wonder and glory of it. Or, to put it less grandly, for its immense possibilities. We choose to do such things, said JFK, “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” And when you do such magnificently hard things—send sailing a Ferdinand Magellan or a Neil Armstrong—you open new human possibility in ways utterly unpredictable.
Addendum (7/19/2015): Krauthammer again:
Here we are, upright bipeds with opposable thumbs, barely down from the trees, until yesterday unable to fly, to communicate at a distance, to reproduce a sound or motion or even an image—and even today barely able to manage the elementary decencies of civilization—taking close-up pictures and chemical readings of a mysterious world 9½ years away.