Robert Goddard, The American "Father of Rocketry" once said:
"It is difficult to say what is impossible. The dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow."
If you know a little about Goddard then you know that he believed and proved and *DID* great things when "Experts" from every corner publically ridiculed him and his work. A legendary story is that in 1920 The New York Times tried to discredit his science saying that propulsion would not work in a vacuum... and only did a public correction in 1969 after Apollo 11 was using impossible propulsion on the way to the moon. (Wiki or bing for the story, or read it right here)
Far as my reading tells me, Goddard figured that most any good idea can be made real and the biggest ones are the ones most worth the effort.
So I wonder if the good doctor would have liked the name of the 50th Annual Space Symposium held last month at his namesake Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland:
"Dreams and Possibilities: Planning for the Achievable"
Planning for the Achieveable. Not the "Important", not the "Big Goal", not the "Exciting" or "Monumental"... but the "achievable".
If he were today alive and aware of the past 40 years of stagnation based on his work, I fantasize that he'd pull a 'Jesus And The Money Changers' scene, smashing all the corporate huckster stalls with their me-too rocket models and smiting the faces of all of the gathered soul-less flesh eaters.
Why didn't they just call it: "How to keep getting a paycheck in the Space Industry without really trying."
Or: "The visionaries are dead, long live NASA."
Or, even more catchy: "The Right Stuff has left the building."
>>April 17th Addendum: Again, NASA Love/Hate calls for some love... There is one small Visionary element still somehow managing to stay alive among the Al-Razaq-style Lockheed/Boeing front-company silliness. COTS. Now, how many in the COTS program offices actually have passion for the mandated goals and how many are respected across NASA's many tendrilled halls is a big question, but by Executive Decree COTS still has some say, and the NASA love part of me says that that is good (Whether NASA itself loves it or not).