I'm not sure you can fault the boys at NASA for their hesitation. I think the finger should be pointed more in the direction of Congress, who provides the funding, and also at the American people, who don't care nearly as much about space flight as they perhaps did. NASA is afraid that Congress will put the kibosh on them if there is another embarrasing accident, and our Congress-critters are eager to fund something else that will make them more popular in the eyes of the people.
Maybe it's the job of the politicians to get the people enthused about space flight.
How do these things work?
Well, why should they, when there are easier ways to be re-elected?(from the politicians point of view.)
Back in the days of the moon shot, it was a response to the Soviets, who were first in space. Now there are no Soviets and apparently space isn't exciting anymore. I don't know. The Columbia accident really put a damper on things. People seem to expect that space travel should be safe for some reason. I don't know why people who didn't know the astronuats get worked up about the "terrible loss of life" involved. I don't think that our record is so bad, considering how new this all is and the complexity of what we're doing. The astronauts knew the risks and wanted to go up anyway.
I don't know what it would take for people to become enthused about space flight again. I suppose that's what Bush wanted to do with his Mars inititiave.
2005-07-29 06:06 am (UTC)
The CNN website ran a poll yesterday about whether or not we should continue the shuttle program. The two answers were "yes" or "no" -- and I didn't push either button, because my answer was "Enough with the shuttles -- let's get to Mars!"
I understand the shuttle programme is nearing the end of its natural life span anyway.
I'm with you- next stop Mars!
I've met some of the real science guys at NASA and the spirit is there. An astronaut volunteered to go on a one way flight to Saturn. It was scrubbed because of fear of public perception.
Going to the Moon wasn't easy. I just found out this week that the astronauts were barely able to make it back to the lander after their walk because they were so exhausted. Since then, from studying them and from doing biological experiments on orbit, we have learned that space flight and radiation have serious irreversible consequences, and we've spent the last three and a half decades developing countermeasures. The radiation effects are so severe, in fact, on-Earth biological testing to develop countermeasures has been done on survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
As for competetion, look China's way. Our new Administrator sure is. And speaking of the new NASA Administrator, he's a real science guy, and a no-bullshit guy. He's eliminating all funding and study that isn't directly related to or supporting return to the Moon and the mission to Mars. Thankfully, I work in Mission Directorate, so I'm safe, for now.
This is fascinating- and encouraging.
A one way mission to Saturn? Oh my. I can understand why he volunteered- but also why they said "no".
What a wonderful novel that would be--One Way to Saturn, perhaps in a diary format.
When we no longer have warmongers at the political helm, perhaps we can spend more on exploration.
Wow. I really don't think I'd volunteer for a one-way mission. But I applaud anyone who would and really truly wish that our government would allow them to do it.
I am wondering though - why would anyone want to go to Saturn? You realize there's nothing to land on?
because it's there. :)
to see it, to record images, to deploy equipment that could collect data.
to search, to discover ...
that's what i mean about the spirit still being here in the Agency. We just want to get the public to feel it, too.
Hey, I understand, but doesn't it sound like a robot would do as much as a human could when it comes to Saturn? Now, Mars, man, sign me up - I'll live there. I would like to come back, though, or at least have a woman along. :)
Does Great Britain have some sort of space program?
I think it's important too, but there are so many things to fund right now... unfortunately. We need new or redesigned shuttles for sure.
We do have a space programme. But- as far as I'm aware- it's not independent. We work with the other European nations and NASA and the Russians.
Oh good!!! I love when everyone works together. Too bad everything does not have that spirit!
Yeah, you all have ESA - European Space Agency.
Don't forget the Japanese - JAXA!
I was remembering this morning a day in 1962 when I cut school to study for an American history exam and instead sat all day in front of the TV hearing the live coverage of Alan Shepherd's historic first flight--
I don't remember anything at all about the exam, but I can remember clearly the excitement of the announcers and of Shepherd.
I'm reading a science fiction book about humans fighting aliens at the center of our galaxy. I was telling Kate about it, and she said dryly, "I guess they figured out those panel problems, then."
Nice one, Kate!
When I look back on that era I think about the sci-fi movies- especially 2001 and Close Encounters. They were so full of hope. There was this sense of being at the start of a great adventure, and how it was going to change us....
Perhaps for that very reason it might be time to let go of the shuttle.
People were fascinated with Mars explorations and with Titan.
We need a grand adventure--I'm all for a manned exploration to Mars.
First, I suppose, we need to grow up enough to stop shooting at each other.
Like you, I believe we are very young. That is where my hope lies. Someday either we or sentient cockroaches will find their way to the stars.
Apollo was also "easier" because, in a way, the costs of a mission loss were lower. While it is always a disaster to lose a crew, in the case of Apollo there were still active production facilities to replace the equipment that they had lost. They could always build another rocket. But the Space Shuttle is so tremendously expensive and antiquated that replacing one is essentially impossible, and there are no replacement designs ready to go into production. Each loss of a shuttle is therefore a nail in NASA's coffin, and that encourages the extreme caution we're seeing.