I admit freely to being glued to the Nasa Channel (on the internet - no Nasa on Comcast last night) as the Phoenix landed and started to send back pictures from the surface of Mars. I cheered along with Mission Control when "Touchdown" was announced, cheered again when the first pictures cam back. What an amazing achievement.
I think America has a kind of "been there, done that" attitude towards space travel. I'm guessing the majority of people have no idea how much Nasa research contributes back to society. I used to know a figure that was the return on every dollar we funded Nasa with. Wikipedia says an investment in the Apollo program earns 33%. Not bad for government work.
The space program needs America to get excited again. Does this mean manned missions? Discovery of Life? I don't know. A nice start would be for Congress to stop cutting funding. The Nasa budget is less than 2% of the total budget, and it pales in comparison to the war in Iraq. They can continue by retiring the shuttle fleet. It's served it's purpose, and it is time to move on to a real 'space truck', something that is completely reusable and doesn't need to be completely rebuilt after every launch.
I subscribe to many, many blogs in my Google Reader. Okay, 122 to be exact. Many of them are blogs by and for Fiction writers, most of those being Science Fiction. Very little mention of the landing across the Blogsphere. There was some mention in Slashdot and IO9 and Wired, but little else. Where's the excitement? We just did the equivalent of throwing a pebble from California to New York, landed it in a basketball hoop in the exact location where we meant it to land, and had it send back pictures. That's amazing! That's awesome! Let's shout it to the world!
Fifty percent of Mars missions and in disaster. We slam dunk another one, and the world gives us a big ho-hum.