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Tomorrow will see only the second launch of a space shuttle since the Columbia tragedy 3+ years ago on 1 February 2003.  Actually the odds do not favor a launch because there's a 60% chance of unfavorable weather.  Nevertheless it is an important flight and whenever it does finally get off the ground the launch should be spectacular.

Including liquid and solid propellants, Discovery will weigh 4.5 million pounds at the moment of liftoff from launch complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center. In just 10 seconds, it will be 800 feet off the ground going straight up at nearly 130 mph. In two minutes, after burning up half its weight in propellant, the spacecraft will be 32 miles up, traveling at some 3,000 mph - faster than a rifle bullet and accelerating at a blistering pace as fuel is consumed and its weight drops off. In eight-and-a-half minutes, the shuttle and its seven occupants will be in orbit, streaking through space at more than 17,000 mph, fast enough to cover 84 football fields in a single heartbeat.

More on the flip side...

Discovery's STS-121 mission will the 18th assembly flight to the International Space Station and deliver badly needed water and other supplies.  It will also ferry a European astronaut who will bring the ISS crew size back up to 3 for the first time since February of 2003.  The crew will also perform a spacewalk to service a malfunctioning piece of construction equipment at ISS and another to test methods of repairing the fragile orbiter heatshield.

NASA Administrator Mike Griffin has bluntly stated that the program will end if another vehicle is lost.  The shuttle program has been a white elephant of sorts from the day its design was finalized.  Too many compromises had to be made for it to live up to its initial promise.  And it wasn't as safe as many made it out to be and as 14 brave American men and women tragically proved.

The International Space Station (ISS) is another white elephant.  It's in the wrong orbit and also will never live up to its hype.  Studies have shown that in order for ISS to even begin to accomplish what it was meant to do would require a permanent crew of at least 7 people.  To date the crews have spent the majority of their time just doing maintenance and housekeeping.

President Bush (yeah, I know) has decided that there will be no more space shuttle flights after the year 2010 and possibly sooner.  This decideration was made so that NASA could focus more on his ambitious program to develop a new space flight vehicle and return astronauts to the moon, and eventually Mars.  ISS still requires 16 assembly flights before it is completed and it's anybody's guess at this time whether or not they can actually be accomplished given the tight schedule.  Deciding to end the program once the ISS was completed would have made too much sense I guess, but hey, what do you expect from someone whose age is about to match his IQ?

Others might speculate that his real motive is to militarize space.  We must work to make sure that never happens.  I take it as a bad sign that the rocket that will take astronauts into space starting in 2014 is named after the god of war.  Maybe it's just me.

It's all but certain that once Bush is out of office his grand vision for space exploration will be scrapped no matter which party is in control of the White House and Congress.  What emerges in its place is bound to be far less exciting.  And for that I am sad.  But as Discovery lifts off tomorrow I would ask everyone here, Democrats, Liberals and Progressives to think about what direction the country's space program should go in.  Just start to think about it, and please try to remember that its value as an inspiration to young people all over the country from every conceivable background and culture is incalculable.  Achievments in space are something the world, even the Arab world, respects and have been a justifiable source of global goodwill for decades.  For what it costs to fight the war in Iraq for a week we could have something to be very, very proud of.  How long has it been since this nation accomplished something all Americans could proudly point to and say, "We did that!"?  Hint: the War on Terror and the War on the Constitution aren't getting it done for me.

I know many Democrats over the years have harshly criticized NASA programs.  Walter Mondale almost single-handedly got the space shuttle program shut down before it ever started.  The biggest criticism has always been that these programs are a waste of money and resources that could be better spent on earth where we have plenty of problems that need fixing.  Mondale called it "an enormous federal boondoggle", and called Nixon's decision to build it an "example of perverse priorities and colossal waste in government spending".  I wonder what he would say today about the war in Iraq and the Department of Homeland Security?

My take has always been different, perhaps because as a young man of 11 years old I was transfixed by the sight of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon in July of 1969.  A grand achievment in a year of so much discord and anger.  A lot happened in the Year of Our Lord 1969.  Nixon takes office.  The Jets win Superbowl III.  First flight of the Boeing 747.  B-52s bomb Cambodia.  First flight of the Concorde.  Hamburger Hill. Last episode of Star Trek.  Muhammed Ali convicted for refusing to enter the Army.  Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.  Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick.  Woodstock.  Charles Manson runs wild.  Hurricane Camille.  Paul is dead.  A dozen USSR nuclear tests.  SCOTUS ends school segregation.  Race riots accross the country.  My Lai massacre revealed.  250,000 protest the Vietnam war in DC.  Selective Service Draft Lottery.  The Black Panthers.  50 million watch Tiny Tim and Miss Vicky get hitched on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.  The NY Mets win the World Series.

And Americans landed on the moon.

With all that going on the only 2 things I distinctly remember are the Mets winning the World Series and Apollo 11 landing on the moon.  That accomplishment always served as an inspiration to me.  And dare I say that without the race to the moon in the 60s I wouldn't be here today.  There were other things I could have done with my spare time in the neighborhood I grew up in besides follow the space program and develop an interest in science and engineering.  Things that could very well have led me down a different path in life.

So I choose to revel in the accomplishments of our space program and do so despite the fact that most of the companies that do its work are part of the military-industrial complex. I always viewed that work and expenditure as an investment in the future of the planet that didn't involve bullets or bombs or soldiers getting killed for a questionable cause.  And they don't classify every piece of paper they generate.  For the most part they operate in the open and invite the public to look at what they are doing.  I would venture that half of the Pentagon's budget would be eliminated in the name of not wasting money if people actually had the facts about many classified programs going on.

So I invite you all to watch the launch of Discovery tomorrow - weather permitting - at 3:49 PM Eastern time and cheer on the crew of Air Force Col. Steve Lindsey, Navy Cdr. Mark Kelly, Navy Cdr. Lisa Nowak, and Mission Specialists Piers Sellers, Mike Fossum, Stephanie Wilson and Frankfurt native Thomas Reiter.  They, too, are heroes and its nice to have heroes who are real and who put their lives on the line, not in pursuit of a flawed foreign policy boondoggle and illegal war of agression, but in furtherence of lifting our eyes toward the stars.

Then, during the flight you can check out sighting opportunities for your location and see the combined shuttle and space station pass overhead.  I hope you can still feel the sense of awe, majesty and hope for the future that I always do whenever I see them silently passing 220 miles overhead.  The two combined vehicles can be extraordinarily bright and on a clear morning or evening, before sunrise or after sunset, they are hard to miss if you're looking in even approximately the right direction.

Look up once in awhile.  Aspire to things that lift the spirit and soul of the nation.  In many ways I view our activities in space as a metaphor for our great country.  We can do better.  We will do better.  And maybe show the world along the way that America is capable of more than just starting wars of hegemony and empire to preserve our access to other nations' oil.

Godspeed, Discovery.

Originally posted to Paper Cup on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 01:04 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I had the privlege of working, indirectly, on the (21+ / 0-)

    Apollo program as a young electrical engineer for a subcontractor. the memory of that day in 1969 is still fresh in my mind.

    The US should change it's space program in the following ways:

    • Bring in the rest of the world by internationalizng the program. Bring in Russia, England, France, Germany, Japan, China, Brazil, India, etc. to spread the costs and build an international base of support. Rename it the International Space Agency, give other nations a bigger role, and divorce the program from US politics.
    • Concentrate on high-probability-of-success programs. Unmanned probes can perform a lot of science for a lot less money. Programs like Hubble, the Mars Rovers, etc. have been great successes.
    • Build a space station of sufficient size and capability that it can be permanently occupied by a useful number of people and provide a platform for construction and launch of deep-space vehicles. This is the logical next step in the exploration of space - a place to learn to adapt to the effects of prolonged living in zero gravity.
    • Develop a vehicle designed to make manned flights within the solar system. By eliminating the need for an Earth-based launch and return, much more capability can be built into the vehicle.

    Just my opinion. I'm sure others have better ideas.

    -6.38/-3.79::'A man is incapable of comprehending any argument that interferes with his revenues.' Descartes

    by skrymir on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 01:32:36 PM PDT

  •  I'll definetly be watching and thinking of them. (8+ / 0-)

    I'm going to be there in person to watch it.  It will be the first time I've seen a launch in person, which I consider sad since I'm a space nut and have lived in Florida for a decade.

  •  I wouldn't be so harsh (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peraspera, kfred, Black Max, Bluesee

    On both the shuttle program and the International Space Station. They have certainly had major problems, and I don't think they are getting us to where we want to go in space exploration.

    But can you imagine Columbus arguing with Queen Isabella over the vessels in his first voyage: "Those caravelles you've given me are pieces of crap and overly expensive too. If one starts leaking again I 'm not leaving the harbor, period..."

    We still need a safe, efficent, reusable spaceplane to take people to and from orbit. And going back to a supersized Apollo-capsule-like "crew exploration vehicle" like Bush proposes is idiotic.

    •  We don't need a space plane... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ed in Montana

      Let's get off this rock and keep going!

      Dana Curtis Kincaid Ad Astra per Aspera!

      by angrytoyrobot on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 09:20:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree with the sentiment, if not the detail (7+ / 0-)

      Michael Griffin is just about the only head of agency in the entire Bush government who strikes me as being something other than simply a lackey and yes-man to the frat-boy-in-chief. That said, I originally was appalled to see his idea of how we would go forward with the 'Apollo-on-steroids' approach to space exploration. But I have to say one thing about this approach . . . it . . .unlike so many of the other systems proposed in the last 30 years to replace the shuttle, has an outside chance of actually getting funding, and working, well enough to get us to Mars. But Mars is only the most obvious goal of the approach. The crew-exploration vehicle idea is part of a mult-ship system that uses stuff we KNOW work, and extends it to the point where, someday, we may actually have the infrastructure in place to support a real reusable space plane.

      As we have things now, many of the assumptions of the early Space Shuttle years have simply not born out. The harsh light of physics and fiscal reality have shown that cheaper-to-orbit technologies are not that easy to find. And hauling all of the wings, aero-shape, and landing gear to orbit makes the weight of the first generation space plane nearly impossible to afford. (I am curious to see what Burt Rutan, Sir Richard Branson, and Virgin Galactic manage to come up with, but that's all new, unproven tech that will probably take about 30 years just to get to a point where we were with Apollo 40 years ago.)

      As progressives, I do not think we should automatically scrap the ideas of this NASA chief. He's opened up the agency to public prizes to support private sector space entrepreneurs and inventors, which may ultimately prove more powerful in the long run, but in the near term, I can say as a hard-nosed pragmatist when it comes to the realities of space flight, that the Apollo-on-steroids program is much closer to reality, and much closer to achieving what we all want, than any of the more fanciful designs I've seen floating around the past few decades.

      I think a real space program should be seen as yet another example of doing what Al Gore describes as 'the moral thing'. We live on a fragile planet that we currently depend upon to support all 6 or 7 billion of our children, plus their pets, and various other creatures we haven't yet managed to turn into pets or kill off. It is simply in everyone's best interest that we provide ourselves with a planetary safety net. I view it as yet another aspect of evolving into a 'sustainable' civilization. Because remember, sustainable means not only sustaining our planet and our resources, but also ourselves and our posterity. Dr Hawking is correct, we need to establish ourselves off planet if we hope to survive. Personally, I see this as an insurance policy should Gore's optimism about our capability of preventing the worst catastrophes of global warming be misplaced. Who knows if it is, but certainty isn't why one pays for insurance.

      -- I share no man's opinions; I have my own. -Ivan Turgenev -6.75 -3.79

      by tergenev on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 10:56:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the 'Apollo-on-steroids' approach (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ed in Montana, Athenian

        I'm with you 100%. Though we shouldn't be surprised to end up with Halliburton Space Engineering Inc.

        if i make them very tiny, may i have more letters for my sig?

        by subtropolis on Sat Jul 01, 2006 at 12:52:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The crew exploration vehicle (0+ / 0-)

        Seems more appropriate for an Earth orbit to Lunar orbit vehicle. But I acknowledge your point; Russians gave up on their first generation spaceplane the Buran, and have been using capsules successfully for half a century. It seems so wasteful to throw all the machinery away every time you launch something into orbit, but it works.

        Rutan's brilliant engineering on SpaceShip One holds real promise, especially with his ingenious control surfaces and the first throttlable solid rocket fueled engine. But the problem of rentry heat still remains.

        Spaceship One renters the atomsphere from a suborbital flight at only 3,000 mph, and does not need much thermal protection. The Space Shuttle re-enters the atmosphere from an orbital flight at 17,500 mph, and the ceramic tiles do the job of dissapating the enormous heat quite while. As long as you don't crack them by tossing frozen foam at them at lift off. The Apollo moon capsules re-entered the atmosphere from a Lunar slingshot trajectory at an astounding 25,000 mph, using an ablative substance on their bottom heat shield to withstand the heat.

        It still appears that ceramics are the way to go in order to handle multiple re-entries, as long as you don't attach the shuttle to the lower side of a fuel tank, where objects from above can fall off and damage it.

        With a determined research and development project and a lot of help from the private sector, we can solve this Earth to orbit problem and begin to get off this ball of mud in a cheaper and safer fashion. I just don't trust the Bush administration to find that solution.

  •  Liberals have always, and somewhat falsely, (15+ / 0-)

    been characterized as "anti-space exploration."  That's an issue I believe we need to reclaim.  It's the only government program of its kind that has more than paid for itself in technological advances, it fires the imagination like nothing else, it advances scientific knowledge, and by God, it's the right thing to do.

    •  I'm not sure it's very false (8+ / 0-)

      Whenever space is brought up here the negative reactions make me think that I've stumbled on a Clinton thread at Red State.  There certainly are people here who are enthusiastic about space exploration, but defiantly in the minority.

      I always enjoy the discussions before the anti space people show up, because they can't seem to just let us enjoy it.

      if (Kos) doesn't like what goes on here, he can start his own damn website! - Major Danby

      by Green Zombie on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 08:48:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lots of Luddites around these parts (6+ / 0-)

        We Southerners get a similar experience.  Last night's "Peckerhead Nation" or whatever it was called was a shining example.  The stereotypes and ugly assumptions were truly appalling.

        Tying the two together, strong Dem support for space exploration is a great issue that plays very well down here.  Apparently, "rednecks" love them some rockets flyin' around space, bouncing off neuters and atoms and stuff, and givin' them damn Klingons what fer.  </snark>

        •  Not to veer off orbit (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Black Max, subtropolis

          but the Perckerwood thread was appalling in it's overall generalizations especially portrying it as solely  a southern phenomena.
          On the other hand I've met way, way, way too many people that fit the descriptors used in that dairy to dismiss it entirely, and, most of them from north of the Mason Dixon. There really is millions of those freaks running loose around the U.S.

          Nice job on this diary, thanks for writing it.

          Impeach and Imprison! -6.63/-6.10

          by FireCrow on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 09:17:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  is it too much to ask (0+ / 0-)

        for you to make a distinction between manned and unmanned exploration in your rhetoric?

    •  Simple reason (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ed in Montana, wrights, Black Max

      Walter Mondale had a hard-on for NASA from the git-go and took every opportunity to destroy the agency.  His kangaroo court after the Apollo 204 fire is a case in point: when NASA administrators visited him in his office to ask him what he wanted, Mondale answered "I'm going to ride this as far as it'll take me".  He decried the "waste" in space while carefully avoiding the subject of inefficient welfare programs, which spent twenty times more than NASA every year.

      The sainted Proxmire also came off as anti-science, what with Golden Fleece awards for modest research projects at the same time as Wisconsin drew on hundreds of millions of dollars for dairy subsidies.

      •  Democrats and ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        subtropolis

        ... Republicans are both at fault for going with a LEO "space plane - Goddess help us" instead of continuing with a super-Apollo to Mars.

        Dems were short sighted and arrogant (that short sight is reflected in loss of all three branches of government to morons like Bush and that idiot Senator from Pennsylvania).  It has cost us all dearly.

        JFK must have spun in his grave until he was white hot and melted.

        We have failed this country.

        Dana Curtis Kincaid Ad Astra per Aspera!

        by angrytoyrobot on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 09:30:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I disagree (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          angrytoyrobot

          The Moon missions were at the bleeding edge of technology, and apart from Apollo 13 we almost lost astronauts on four of the six Mercury missions [1], Gemini 8 (stuck thruster), the first couple of Gemini spacewalks, Apollo 10 (LM/CSM docking sent the stack into a spin), Apollo 11 (LM landing with 30 seconds of fuel left; had there been less go-juice Armstrong would have had to do an extremely risky abort), and Apollo 12 (hit by lightning on ascent).

          [1] Gus Grissom - troubled water recovery, John Glenn - heatshield problem, Scott Carpenter - landing 250 miles away, Gordon Cooper - capsule systems failures

          Not until Apollo 14 did things settle down into missions that, if not routine, at least had an idea where most of the dragons slept.  A Mars mission would have entailed an order of magnitude higher expense and even more risk: remember that long-duration missions such as Skylab were in the future, and computer/life support/power technologies were still rudimentary.  It was time to get experience in LEO, although the shuttle in its current form is not the best flight article for the job.  It should be considered an experimental craft, and using it for cargo is like asking the Wright brothers to set up an air transport service with the Flyer.

          It sticks in my craw that NASA will throw away its hard-won experience with recoverable craft and go back to spam-in-a-can on throwaway boosters, but as we say in engineering: Faster, Cheaper, Better - pick two.

  •  Bush Knows What He's Doing (4+ / 0-)

    The President is an expert on space, in particular space vacumm.  As a matter of fact, he would probably need a space helmet to prevent the external vacumm from imploding his suit

    •  The one thing I agreed with Bush on (0+ / 0-)

      was when he said he wanted to go to the Moon and Mars. In fact, I would have been willing to spend Iraq-like money to expedite his trip to either one. With any luck he would lack an exit strategy for that situation as well. I do think it's disgraceful that the best our manned program has done in the nearly 40 years since we landed on the Moon is an outer space version of a Pinto. I wouldn't be surprised if it has an 8-track player in it. Seeking knowledge and exploration is intrisic to human nature. We can do a lot better on this front.

  •  What you said. (16+ / 0-)

    Same here -- everything you said -- except I was only three in 1969, and the only things I remember from that year were the moon landing and my broken leg.  I imprinted like a baby duck.  From age three to age six I was living in a science fiction novel. And my entire life since has been lived with a part of me, crumpled, not understanding why we turned our backs.

    I was in Florida in January of 2003, and I visited Cape Canaveral and saw Columbia, sitting on the launch pad.

    sigh

    I would like to see humans walk on Mars before I die.  It would be even nicer if Americans did it - but it's much more likely they'll be Chinese.

    It's hard to explain to people who don't get it -- that save only for feeding people and preserving the environment, this is the most important thing we can do with our money. You either get it or you don't... like opera, or modern art, or baseball. It leaves some people cold, wondering what's the point, and to others it's a deep affirmation of what makes us human.

    We could talk spinoffs, or science, or preserving humanity against catastrophe, or the riches of mining asteroids, or the value of a separate human community in a place that cannot become instantly connected to the rest of us... but ultimately either you get it or you don't that this is simply what humans do.

    •  Sticking on Earth (5+ / 0-)

      will never solve all o our problems, but exploiting the resources that space could provide for us could well solve many of the problems that plague humanity, especially all of the things that rely on raw resources.

      That's one of the reasons I support space exploration, because of the potential for help that exists.

      I agree for most people you either get it or don't and I have a hard time understanding those who do not.

      if (Kos) doesn't like what goes on here, he can start his own damn website! - Major Danby

      by Green Zombie on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 08:52:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sticking it TO Earth... (3+ / 0-)

        ...is what we are doing now.  Space (other places in this system to start with) provides us a much needed "lifeboat" in case of disasters here (let alone a Theocracy that wants nothing to do with its 5000 "history" or anything that might make them think).

        We could do so much, and this government, Republican and Democrat is failing us.

        "All the Universe or Nothing" - The Shape of Things to Come

        Dana Curtis Kincaid Ad Astra per Aspera!

        by angrytoyrobot on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 09:24:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Very well said (0+ / 0-)

      I'd like to give you multiple recommends.

      Resistance is futile! We are the Alpha and the Zuniga' and all will be assimilated.

      by Bill White on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 09:08:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  true that we MUST do this (0+ / 0-)

      And everything else you said ('cepting i'm much more interested in football).

      … or the value of a separate human community in a place that cannot become instantly connected to the rest of us …

      Imagine how the xenophobic idol-worshippers will feel then, eh?

      if i make them very tiny, may i have more letters for my sig?

      by subtropolis on Sat Jul 01, 2006 at 01:03:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  2 things (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peraspera, subtropolis

    In just 10 seconds, it will be 800 feet off the ground going straight up at nearly 130 mph.

    In those same 10 seconds, a AA/Fuel dragster will have gone 1/4 mile, topping out at 335+ mph - and then waited 5.5 seconds for the Saturn to catch up.

    I saw Apollo 11 launch from about 2 miles away, across the water.  Mailer's description was hooey, as usual, but I do believe there could have been a million people there.  What you don't get on any sound track is the same as what you don't get from tracks recording rock concerts or V-8 races: being slammed in the gut and having your body shaken by sound waves.  The sound rolled across the inlet, became as loud as any rock concert - then doubled.

    You'll :: never hear :: surf music :: again :::::::::::::::::

    by moltar on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 08:50:07 PM PDT

    •  Storey Musgrave (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      susie dow, subtropolis, station wagon

      I remember some time ago watching a documentary in which Storey appeared talking about his experiences. This is from Wiki:

      Musgrave entered the United States Marine Corps in 1953, served as an aviation electrician and instrument technician, and as an aircraft crew chief while completing duty assignments in Korea, Japan and Hawaii, and aboard the carrier USS Wasp in the Far East. He has flown 17,700 hours in 160 different types of civilian and military aircraft, including 7,500 hours in jet aircraft. He has earned FAA ratings for instructor, instrument instructor, glider instructor, and airline transport pilot, and U.S. Air Force Wings. An accomplished parachutist, he has made more than 500 free falls -- including over 100 experimental free-fall descents involved with the study of human aerodynamics.

      In the documentary I mentioned he was trying to describe the feeling of sitting on top of a 2 million pound controlled explosion at liftoff in the shuttle. This is a guy who was certifiably fearless throught his career, the go-to guy for crazy stuff, and he said it was the first time something had scared the shit out of him. What an incredible rush that must be.

      Impeach and Imprison! -6.63/-6.10

      by FireCrow on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 09:28:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  and how (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ed in Montana, FireCrow

        I think i may have seen the same doc. I also read an interview of him, wherein he mentions hovering at one of the shuttle ports with his camera during off-time. He said he fell asleep at one point, and was trying to get across, i think, the feeling of coming out of a little micro-nap and seeing that you're whizzing past the planet at 17,000 km/hr.

        I also read somewhere, later, that he'd taken up poetry. He suggests that space is somewhere artists need to go to. He's quite an interesting guy, and has a very easy-going, intelligent, yet almost playful way of speaking. Check out the footage him sauntering down the corridor, on his way out to the spacecraft. Though, i suppose many of this planet's spacemen (and women) have been saunterers to some degree.

        if i make them very tiny, may i have more letters for my sig?

        by subtropolis on Sat Jul 01, 2006 at 12:19:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've alway liked him (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          subtropolis

          I've also seen him somewhere talking about things he's seen as an astronaut that even with all his training, he could not explain. He was alluding to UFO type activity, not saying he was a believer, just that he's seen some pretty incredible unexplained phenomena that he wished more people were investigating.

          Impeach and Imprison! -6.63/-6.10

          by FireCrow on Sat Jul 01, 2006 at 12:53:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  When did the NHRA... (0+ / 0-)

      ...sanction vertical races?

      "What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite." - Bertrand Russell

      by Mad Dog Rackham on Sat Jul 01, 2006 at 06:51:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  you're lucky (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, susie dow

    I was born in 1970, so there are hardly any positive memories of the manned program.  

    Skylab crashing, the two shuttles disasters, more than billion dollars per launch, and the basically nonfunctional space station costing so much you can't count it.  

    With that, I have used HST and Chandra so I am certainly grateful to the shuttle astronauts who launched and repaired them.  

    I think Bush is on the right track, except that in practice his plan is cutting space science and robotic missions, and it's doubtful that the lunar or mars missions will ever happen.  

    •  also, you seem to be pro-Nixon (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ed in Montana

      when he is the one who cancelled the Apollo program before it finished and approved the shuttle with a budget much smaller than what was really needed.

      •  Nixon Killed Skylab... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ed in Montana

        They agreed to using the last Apollo for a political ploy for Apollo-Soyuz.  That was a worthless mission.

        So, instead of a mission to Skylab that could have saved the station, it was allowed to burn up.

        Fuckers.

        Dana Curtis Kincaid Ad Astra per Aspera!

        by angrytoyrobot on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 09:15:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And the design compromises (0+ / 0-)

          That went into the Shuttle, turned it into the first space SUV, rather than the first reusable space passenger plane. The shuttle should have never been designed to carry large cargos. We had Saturn Vs for that purpose, which we threw away in the early 70s.

  •  Bush's real motive? (0+ / 0-)

    It is not to militarize space (although he certainly wouldn't mind). It is to PRIVATIZE the space program.

    They are counting on a catastrophic failure, god forbid, so they can end it early.

    "I am my brother's keeper. I am a Democrat." -- That's your slogan, Democrats.

    by Bensdad on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 09:03:27 PM PDT

    •  Not the Bush motive, in my opinion (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WI Deadhead, subtropolis

      NASA is a no-win for Bush. Nothing really good can happen by January 2009, only bad things.

      Robert Zubrin likes to say that the Bush space plan is essentially a letter to the 44th President, "Dear Successor, I'd like you to agree to go to the Moon."

      Resistance is futile! We are the Alpha and the Zuniga' and all will be assimilated.

      by Bill White on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 09:10:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's To Militarize Space-- (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WI Deadhead

      That was what they were pushing till 9/11. Star Wars.

      No relation to NASA or anything they might feel about it.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 11:54:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  After we reclaim the White House (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Athenian, VA Gal

    fix the many, many errors Dubya has made, but keep Mike Griffin as NASA head.

    Just my opinion.

    Resistance is futile! We are the Alpha and the Zuniga' and all will be assimilated.

    by Bill White on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 09:07:45 PM PDT

  •  O Live Martin I! A Reminiscence, Mostly... (4+ / 0-)

    When I was nine years old I had to deliver newspapers to help feed my family; that was 1967 and NASA was in full swing, fulfilling Kennedy's promise that we would put a man on the moon, not because it's easy, but because it's hard.  Kennedy, the last great Statesman we had (they get killed it seems).  I digress.

    I grew up with the Apollo program, and Gemini; Mercury I don't remember so much, but I idolized those guys - Grissom, Chaffey, White, Armstrong... "Buzz"...  Every morning I would read in the papers the exploits of the astronauts - the tickertape parades they gave them in New York City.  I remember Apollo Eight well, the Christmas message fro the other side of the moon.  I lived through Apollo 13 with you guys, but I got to read it first!  Because I was an eleven year old paper boy delivering the New York Daily News.  We collected baseball cards with astronauts on them; on the back were pieces of a moon photo that you could look at when you collected the complete set.

    I became an engineer because I idolized scientists and astronauts.  Thanks to Carter I became a good engineer; thank to Reagan I got a job working defense.

    Twenty years later and I am working on the requirements for the CEV in heavy competition; it's the main reason I don't type on here much, I am pretty busy!

    Isn't life interesting?

    I'm printing out your story and plan to read it, perhaps over this martini!

  •  NASA is so unproductive (0+ / 0-)

    It's not that space exploration is a waste,  it's really worthwhile,
    sending probes to other planets learning about the universe,
    building a space station, all that is great.

    What it is, is NASA only productively uses 5% of it's resources wisely.

    Instead of spending billions to fly the shuttle to haul supplies,
    it'd be far better to hire the russians to haul supplies.

    Instead of flying a shuttle that does nothing, why not do some
    practical research on materials, propulsion, controls, design
    that will result in something that works better.

    •  blame Congress, blame the system of government (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ed in Montana

      A lot of the problem lies in the fact that—for good or ill—everything that NASA is involved with must be chewed at by any and all in Congress who demand their jurisdiction's piece of the pie.

      If the scientists and engineers were in charge, things would be much more productive. How it would all be paid for, i don't know.

      if i make them very tiny, may i have more letters for my sig?

      by subtropolis on Sat Jul 01, 2006 at 12:26:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't blame the system (0+ / 0-)

        the NASA guys believe their job is producing stunts
        and press rleases.  COngress just wants jobs and spending in
        their home districts, how it gets spent is mostly open to
        the bureaucracy.  

        The NIH is a wonderful research agency, with a budget close to
        the size of NASA.  NIH doesn't sink their whole budget operating
        some giant "Cancer Sorter".  Instead they sponsor lots of
        little researchers.

        NASA needs to shut down shuttle and station and start working
        on real research.

        •  i'm suggesting that the system (0+ / 0-)

          ensures that some of "the NASA guys" will be dedicated to the sort of thing you point out. However, IMHO, the vast majority of the engineers there simply want to get on with moving us into space.

          if i make them very tiny, may i have more letters for my sig?

          by subtropolis on Sat Jul 01, 2006 at 02:57:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The Space Shuttle is fatally flawed because of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    subtropolis

    "politics, greed and the wrong stuff"

    Malcolm McConnell was a finalist for the "Journalist in Space" program which was going to follow the ill fated "Teacher in Space Program".  He was at Kennedy Space Center and witnessed the Challenger tragedy first hand.

    That shocking experience led him to do some serious investigative journalism into what went wrong.  The result was his book:

            "Challenger: A Major Malfunction"
    "A True Story of Politics, Greed and the Wrong Stuff"

    The book is riveting: it interlaces a narrative of that fateful day with all the background material of how this tragedy was allowed to happen.  I wept when it recounted Challenger's end.

    This book is a MUST READ for anyone who is really interested in the problems that the US Space Agency faces because of politics.  

    -5.75 -4.72 3.14159 2.71828

    by xynz on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 10:12:08 PM PDT

    •  We have wasted a lot of money and lives (0+ / 0-)

      on the shuttle program, including a number of classified military missions. We have received much for value for money from non-manned missions like Voyager. I am not Luddite; I am as pro0science as one can get, but I want to see the US get value for money out of the space program. This particular launch troubles me because two of the scientific personnel have reservations. We are going ahead anyway. It seems like another triumph of politics over science.

  •  At the very least (7+ / 0-)

    in my opinion, we need to repair Hubble.  It really drives me crazy that we can spend all this money to kill people but can't spend a little to save an asset that has given us so much insight about the universe and our minuscule place in it.  Our blue marble, as Carl Sagan would put it, would do well to remember it's place in the scheme of things.

    Don't attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

    by jasfm on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 10:17:48 PM PDT

  •  I remember (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, eeff, gbussey, gloriana

    the July evening was very warm and calm. There was quite some time between the Eagle's landing  and when Armstrong left the module and took his first steps.

    I spent that time outside on the front step, talking with some other boys from the neighborhood. We wondered what they'd find...and like typical 12 year olds our imaginations got the better of us (maybe it was more like 12 year old wishful thinking).

    I remember my dad calling out "He's leaving the capsule" and running back in to watch the barely legible black + white image of Armstrong decending the ladder, taking his first step on the surface, and through a crackling microphone saying those words: "That's one small step..."

    About a month before the landing I had started a scrapbook with pictures and newspaper articles on the trip and the astronauts. The book included recaps of Apollo 8,9 and 10, what each of these missions accomplished and how they all led to Apollo 11 and the landing.

    About 20 years ago I gave that scrapbook to my sister so she could give it to her 12 year old son, my nephew, who, like me, was fascinated by the wonders of space. My sister though, has kept it. It's in her attic. Stored away.

    Every now and then  - when I visit - I take a look and remember - not just the moon landing but what it was like to be twelve.

    Hard to believe it'll be thirty-seven years in a couple of weeks.

  •  fuck bush... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    subtropolis

    It's always some ambitious plan cooked up in a Washington think tank that has no connection to reality, be it tax cuts or the Iraq war or sending a guy to mars.  I'm not the anti-Kennedy, but come on, it's called having a plan.  Am I right or am I right people.  

    P.S.- under the influence of alcohol.  

  •  Bill HIcks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    subtropolis, LithiumCola

    "The world is like a ride at an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it's very brightly coloured and it's very loud and it's fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: Is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, 'Hey don't worry, don't be afraid ever, because this is just a ride ...' And we ... kill those people. Ha ha, 'Shut him up. We have a lot invested in this ride. Shut him up. Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account and my family. This just has to be real.' It's just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. But it doesn't matter, because it's just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money. A choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace."

    From the Southland? Join us at SoCalKossacks

    by midvalley on Sat Jul 01, 2006 at 12:01:05 AM PDT

  •  minor nit (0+ / 0-)

    Two of the crew aboard Columbia for it's final mission were not USian. Payload Specialist Colonel Ilona Ramon was Israeli, and Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla was from India.


    Oh, wait—Ms Chawla was a US citizen. But, anyway …

    if i make them very tiny, may i have more letters for my sig?

    by subtropolis on Sat Jul 01, 2006 at 12:08:19 AM PDT

  •  Eventhought this is a blog to get Democrates (4+ / 0-)

    Elected to office, this is the best diary I have ever read here on DKos. This reminded me of my youthful idealism. When I was a kid in the 80's it was all about getting us to Mars.

    what I took from all of this as a developing human, was that our basic and most instinctive impulses and necessity as humans was to explore and to evolve. And that is what made us Americans special. Because we understood the fundamental human endeavor. To evolve, and to learn.

    I went to space camp in Huntsville Alabama when I was 12. I spent a year mowing lawns to pay for the trip and I will never forget the week I spent there. Studying astronomy, actually being 1 of 2 kids out of dozens to fly the space shuttle simulator. I was the Commander for a flight. I actually used the same simulators the astronauts use while training. It was amazing. The power and complexity of that vehicle makes a NASCAR car look like a fisher price toy.

    We need to continue to explore. It's in our nature, it's demanded upon us, and by shunning the endeavor to explore would be to deny the very purpose of our existence.

  •  one question, one answer (0+ / 0-)

    The International Space Station (ISS) is another white elephant.  It's in the wrong orbit and also will never live up to its hype.

    I agree about not living up to the hype, but what's wrong with its orbit, and which one would be the right one?

    How long has it been since this nation accomplished something all Americans could proudly point to and say, "We did that!"?

    For some of us, that was not early 2001 but EVERY DAY SINCE EARLY 2001: the Human Genome Project. While it did become an international collaboration, it was conceived by a group of American scientists at the behest of the the Department of Energy. I work on the human genome every day (yep, weekends included; that's how much fun it is), and I still can't get over the enormity of the idea: hey, why don't we just sequence the whole damn thing? Astounding. Brilliant. And a bit more, er, down to earth as well as relevant to human life than space exploration.

    •  Its orbit was altered to accomodate (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ed in Montana, VA Gal

      launches from Baikonur which made it harder for the Shuttle to get to it. On the other hand, with the Shuttles grounded, Russian spacecraft were the only lifeline.

      I still don't see why we can't change the orbit later and even expand the design.

      Shuttle fuel tanks do NOT have to be dropped into the ocean. They could be allowed to drift up to orbit and used. They still contain hundreds of kilos of oxygen and hydrogen. Put a few of them together and you have vast amounts of (potentially) pressurised space. David Brin (who used to work at NASA) explored this idea in a short story. The waste made me so angry.

      Cheers for the genome and the space program.

      Thinking dangerous thoughts in the birthplace of democracy

      by Athenian on Sat Jul 01, 2006 at 03:57:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ET Stations (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Athenian

        For decades there have been some ingenious plans for using the Shuttles' External Tanks and their remaining propellents.  It won't happen, but we could do so much with the ETs from remaining Shuttle flights, if we warehoused them in orbit.

        And there is so much we could be learning about living and working in space if the station were fully staffed.

        Not to mention what we could have accomplished with just a fraction of what Iraq has cost us.  (I would give you a 4 each for the geneome AND space comment, and the hat tip to Brin.)

        Landed Aristocracy and Share-Croppers - does that sound like an Opportunity Society to you?

        by VA Gal on Sat Jul 01, 2006 at 06:15:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It would be far less expensive (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Athenian

        to loft a new station at a lower inclination than move ISS.

        With the new CaHLV being built we could even deploy a station in one or two launches rather than dozens with STS.

        Resistance is futile! We are the Alpha and the Zuniga' and all will be assimilated.

        by Bill White on Sat Jul 01, 2006 at 12:38:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Apollo 11 Amongst the Stalinists ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, VA Gal

    July 1969 was an interesting summer.  At the time of Apollo 11 I had driven from Denver to Oakland to attend a conference put on by the Black Panthers.  I was staying with some SDS/Weathermen types.  While they were downstairs talking about how "Stalin had some good ideas" I snuck upstairs, found a TV and watched Armstrong walk on the moon.  At that point something "clicked" and I realized that what had been billed "the new left" was suddenly looking pretty old and ignorant, and that my dreams included not only social justice but  scientific exploration - sometimes for the immediate gains, but sometimes because, like someone said upthread, that's one of the things that makes us human.

    "That's hard to explain without using the phrase 'you gullible toad.'" Dilbert Dilbert

    by gbussey on Sat Jul 01, 2006 at 02:45:02 AM PDT

  •  I don't like The Manned Program (0+ / 0-)

    At all. Not one bit.

    But this is a superb diary and has come closer to changing my mind than anything else I've read or heard up until now.

    Obviously, Paper Cup, I think you've done a fine job here.

    I'll look for your stuff from now on.

    If you don't already, YOU should work for NASA.

    •  Manned vs. Unmanned (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ed in Montana, VA Gal

      Fishgrease, I share your ambivalence. I've preferred the unmanned missions because they produce more science per dollar...which in these tight-budget times translates into more science overall.

      Still, there are things we learn only by putting people into space. I heard an NPR story a couple of weeks ago about how human brains take 3 days to adapt to weightlessness. What I found really fascinating is the discovery that when astronauts return to space, their brains can switch to weightless operation instantaneously. No unmanned mission could have revealed that (though cognitive scientists would probably argue that they could perform more amazing experiments for a million--let alone a billion--dollars).

      I work in the world of space mission financing. My concern is that the push to retire the Shuttles and build new launch vehicles could put at risk both NASA's mission and its entire budget. Space has never been a cheap proposition. Combine that with the fact that decision makers view all aspects of "rocket science" as beyond their understanding, and we get Nixon's decision for shuttles over expendible launch vehicles and Bush's decision to go to Mars. When the cost overruns come--as they will-- for the new launch vehicles, science missions, research and development of the next generation air traffic control system, and who knows what else will have to be cut from the NASA budget. That is, of course, unless the next President challenges the American people, as did Kennedy, to "pay any price...bear any burden...".

      That being said, I like very much the job that Mike Griffin is doing at NASA. He's working hard to get the agency's spending under control. And he's smart enough to know that if NASA doesn't move ahead with missions that capture Americans' imagination, the agency could die. That would leave space activities in the hands of the Air Force, a few companies, and foreign governments. I don't think we want that.

      If President Gore sits down with Mike in February 2009 and reviews the science missions on NASA's books that are aimed at understanding our planet better, I have no doubt that the agency would receive more funding and attention. (And if wishes were laptops, I'd be dictating this entry via voice recognition and seeing it on a 2-ounce 36" screen....)

      •  Human Physiology (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WI Deadhead

        There is an incredible amount to learn about human brains, lungs - just thousands of physiological processes in zero-g vs. Earth gravity.  Not even thinking about the levels in between IF we had a variable-g facility - how much gravity is enough?  Is it different for different processes?  God, I want to know those things so much more than what the rocks look like on Mars!

        Such knowledge would brightly illuminate our understanding of down-to-Earth medicine.  We're still stumbling around in the darkness.  The future of medicine is in understanding and specifically targeting the causes of illness.  Not loading one pill upon another, without even understanding how they all act and interact.

        Of course, we can't even get these yahoos to fund stem cell research.  How will we be able to afford a medical system that's focused on treatment instead of cures?

        It's not widely appreciated that Gore's work with the Russians (and Clinton's support) is a major reason that we have a space station today.  And he long supported unmanned science programs.  I have no doubt that President Gore would keep Griffin, and understand how a strong, balanced space program would help save our ecosystem and give us a real future.

        Landed Aristocracy and Share-Croppers - does that sound like an Opportunity Society to you?

        by VA Gal on Sat Jul 01, 2006 at 06:55:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Return to the Moon (4+ / 0-)

    I'm heartened by most of the comments and recommendations for this diary.  The space program is a winner for the Democratic Party.  It was Kennedy that started, and Johnson that pursued, the Apollo program.  Once we landed on the Moon, Nixon canned it, after the rockets and spacecraft for Apollo 18 & 19 were already built, to save $10M on having to run them.  The NASA administrator resigned in protest, but Nixon was too busy burgling DNC headquarters to care.

    We went from the first American in space, 1961, to the landing on the Moon in 8 years.  Then we designed the space shuttle to be cheaper access to space.  Instead, the shuttle is the most expensive way to get to orbit yet devised.  It's long past time that we write the shuttle off, and move on to the logical next step after Apollo, longer and more thorough exploration of the Moon.

    Let's face it -- this Moon/Mars thing was not Bush's idea.  IMHO, I think this was the idea of the NASA brass:  put the shuttles in museums, and, without increasing the NASA budget, use the money to go someplace that we can do science instead.  They told Bush what his vision was, and he announced it.  He promptly forgot all about it after reading the cue cards.  

    We here at DailyKos shouldn't oppose this program because Bush said something about it once.  We should support the peaceful exploration of the solar system, both crewed and robotic.  For a fraction of the cost of the Iraq war, say $200B (spread over 15-20 years), we could easily send astronauts to Mars.  The money we spend will stay right here at home, supporting an aerospace industry that builds rockets and spaceships right here in America.  It will also serve to inspire young people to pursue scientific careers.

    Science and exploration are some of the things that Peace and Prosperity are for, the things that allow us to rise above our petty earth-bound conflicts and explore the universe, together.

  •  Manned space flight has little to do with science (0+ / 0-)

    The science from the manned space program is just crap.  Kennedy knew this.  The NASA manned space program is just another boondoggle for the military-industrial complex and 14 American died for  literally no purpose other than the bottom line of defense contractors.

    Nov. 21, 1962

    Webb: "I’m talking now about the scientific program to understand the space environment within which you have got to fly Apollo and make the landing on the moon."

    Kennedy: The science . . . going to the moon is the top-priority project. Now, there is a lot of related scientific information and development that will come from that which are important. But the whole thrust of the agency, in my opinion, is the lunar program.

    Kennedy: "This is, whether we like it or not, a race. Everything we do [in space] ought to be tied into getting to the moon ahead of the Russians."

    Kennedy: "[beating the Russians to the moon] is the top priority of the agency and ... except for defense, the top priority of the United States government. .... Otherwise, we shouldn't be spending this kind of money, because I'm not that interested in space."

    Kennedy: "I think it's good [to explore space], I think we ought to know about it, we're ready to spend reasonable amounts of money. But we're talking about fantastic expenditures. We've wrecked our budget, and all the other domestic programs. And the only justification for it, in my opinion to do it [on this schedule] is because we hope to beat them, to demonstrate that starting behind, and we did, by a couple of years, by God, we passed them."

    •  Space race (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ed in Montana

      Good reminder that science was a by-product of the "space race".

      I did research in the late '90s on what could be done to resurrect the Saturn launch vehicle program. It turns out that the US could not build another Saturn without serious expenditures in its production of large-scale structures and in metalurgy. The Chinese emperor killed the designers and engineers responsible for building the supertanker-sized "superjunks" of the 16th century in order to limit foreign contact; we let our productive capabilities atrophy after we won our space race.

    •  Priorities (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shooter

      There's a strong feeling in Washington that we need to maintain a military-industrial complex, that if we dismantle it we won't be able to rebuild it quickly enough to mount a defense. Whether you agree with that or not, it's the prevailing attitude and won't be going away regardless of which party is in power.

      So if we have to keep it going and keep paying for it, then which is a better way to do that: building manned spacecraft, or building missiles?

      The biggest mistake with the shuttle was the unwillingness to set priorities, trying to build both spacecraft and weapons and doing a poor job because of inability to raise enough money to do both.

      Already we have too many weapons lacking missions. We need to move the priority use of the military-industrial complex away from weapons toward something that actually produces value, that motivates the next generation to break new barriers, and that restores America's leadership in science and technology.

  •  I've never been completly able to explain my love (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana

    for space exploration, but I know it's saddens me to see its slow decline and fall..

  •  Look up and to the future (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wrights

    As an avid sci-fi reader, I always wanted to SEE these marvelous adventures come to pass.  But humans appear to have stagnated and been content to rest on past accomplishments.

    Mayeb we are a scourge and a virulent infection that the rest of the universe could do without, but I would like to see us explore the stars.  Maybe as we expand some pocket of humanity could become what I believe we all could be, if conditions are right.

    How many lives were lost during the Westward expansion?  My ancestors walked from IL to UT under very trying conditions.  Many were lost, but those who survived came through stronger than ever.

    I hope I live to see the day we have a permanent base on the moon.  I am hopeful that it will a cooperative effort and not a unilateral military presence.

    And I even dare hope that sometime in the next 50 years I might even get a chance to go there myself.  Unlikely, but still possible.

    As Robert Heinlein said, "Tomorrow, the Stars."

    •  First Pilot Star Trek (0+ / 0-)

      What happens when you jut keep replaying old memories (TV) like the aliens - Vians -  in that first pilot?

      You get soft.  You even forget how to repair the machines your ancestors left behind.

      TV has probably been the worst thing that has ever happened to the species.  At least the 'Net is interactive.  I've barely watched the Box this summer, and I won't turn the sci-fi channel back on till Battlestar Galactica has a new season.

      We got soft watching TV, living other people's dreams thru Trek and BG and Star Wars, and forgot that it will actually take work to get out there.

      Turn off your TV.  Paint your house.  Build a room.  Get a bike.  Write some short stories.  Get involved with your own little lobbying effort to Congress.  Join the Planetary Society or L5 or the NSS (http://www.nss.org/)

      Dana Curtis Kincaid Ad Astra per Aspera!

      by angrytoyrobot on Sat Jul 01, 2006 at 07:58:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  First Pilot Star Trek (0+ / 0-)

      What happens when you jut keep replaying old memories (TV) like the aliens - Vians -  in that first pilot?

      You get soft.  You even forget how to repair the machines your ancestors left behind.

      TV has probably been the worst thing that has ever happened to the species.  At least the 'Net is interactive.  I've barely watched the Box this summer, and I won't turn the sci-fi channel back on till Battlestar Galactica has a new season.

      We got soft watching TV, living other people's dreams thru Trek and BG and Star Wars, and forgot that it will actually take work to get out there.

      Turn off your TV.  Paint your house.  Build a room.  Get a bike.  Write some short stories.  Get involved with your own little lobbying effort to Congress.  Join the Planetary Society or L5 or the NSS (http://www.nss.org/)

      Dana Curtis Kincaid Ad Astra per Aspera!

      by angrytoyrobot on Sat Jul 01, 2006 at 07:58:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Private sector (0+ / 0-)

    The Republicans since Nixon have believed that the private sector should take over the development of the space industry, and this ideological view has led them to under-fund the shuttle program and create a lot of waste.

    It's critically important to have a competitive private sector space-based economy, as that's the only economic force big enough to counterbalance the militarization of space.

    But to do that, there needs to be a publicly-funded infrastructure to provide access to space. This isn't much different from the need for the Interstate Highway System, a very expensive and very high-quality infrastructure that opened up the entire nation to the little guy. Once the interstates were built, you didn't have to be a big railroad corporation to move goods or people from one place to any other place. The interstates created widespread opportunity. We need to do the same thing in space, build an infrastructure that makes it easy to get there even for small businesses and individuals.

    Once that infrastructure is built, that isn't the end of government's role. But government has to be willing to let go of its old duties and adopt new ones. It's government's job to push the limits, do the most far-reaching and risky exploration, so the private sector can follow behind and exploit what is discovered.

    If government builds an infrastructure that can be used by itself and the private sector both, then it can push the limits of exploration more efficiently and be able to reach farther.

  •  Weather scrub? (0+ / 0-)

    At 3:39 Easten Time, a weather scrub looks very likely

    Resistance is futile! We are the Alpha and the Zuniga' and all will be assimilated.

    by Bill White on Sat Jul 01, 2006 at 12:37:12 PM PDT

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