When I saw that news, I immediately thought how odd it is that, for the first time in my life, there is no manned effort in progress by the United States. I felt exactly as I did when I was a child, and found that President Nixon was cutting back the space program severely. I still wonder how much further ahead we would be, as a race, if those cuts had not been implemented. I know my life would have changed, as, up until that point, I was planning on becoming an astrophysicist.
Now we are going into a vacuum, with nothing new until the Ares program, which will still be a very limited set of excursions into space. There is nothing on the horizon that is similar in size or scope to the shuttle, and it seems so unnatural that our nation would step back, instead of leading the world.
“NASA has assigned the crew for the last scheduled space shuttle mission, targeted to launch in September 2010. The flight to the International Space Station will carry a pressurized logistics module to the station. Veteran shuttle commander and retired Air Force Col. Steven W. Lindsey will command the eight-day mission, designated STS-133. Air Force Col. Eric A. Boe will serve as the pilot; it will be his second flight as a shuttle pilot. Mission Specialists are shuttle mission veteran Air Force Col. Benjamin Alvin Drew, Jr., and long-duration spaceflight veterans Michael R. Barratt, Army Col. Timothy L. Kopra and Nicole P. Stott.”
Reader Al points out other NASA news that the space agency’s engineers have been testing a sleek new lunar rover that will be part of their eventual return to the moon. A video of the rover in action has been posted as well.
Of course, the lunar rover has no planned method of travel to the moon, as all of those plans remain nebulous, and without schedule. The Ares program has been threatened, in the last month, as to its eventual implementation. Several times the funding has had threats of removal, with the economic situation. I find it so strange that so few believe, as I do, that space exploration is important.
We celebrate the adventures of men like Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Pizarro, and Magellan, yet the idea of there being new explorers in their vein seems to be a foreign idea. Just as the explorers of old brought home untold riches, the untold riches of space are awaiting those who have the talent and the fortitude…and the money.
Quote of the day:
At the present rate of progress, it is almost impossible to imagine any technical feat that cannot be achieved – if it can be achieved at all – within the next few hundred years. – Arthur C. Clarke