There's this piece of metal, see, and it was sent out thirteen years ago with the intent of learning more about the hunks of rock that share the sun with us.

In the next day or so, Galileo, well past its operating life, limping along with little or no fuel and no main antenna, will most likely send its last signal, as it passes close to Jupiter again, and begins to fall into the planet's gravity well. I can clearly remember dreaming of space as a youngster. It's no coincidence that most of what i read is science fiction - the exploration of the universe that surrounds Earth has always been of interest to me. So, this sort of thing is very moving to me. From Voyager and Apollo to the Challenger and Enterprise, man's steps into space are amongst the greatest things that we do.

I hope that i will live to see mankind step as far out into space as our tools have. It's a foothold, an explorer, a beater of paths. And i feel proud that my people, of whom i generally hold a low opinion, sent out this trailblazer.

Thank you, NASA. Thank you, you inanimate hunk of metal. Thank you, Galileo, for leading the way.

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