Does the Space Shuttle Excite You?

This just in–Astronauts take day off as space mission winds down. And yesterday what was it, a space walk to replace some foam somewhere? Sounds like the equivalent to getting a flat tire on a camping trip. “And in news from the family camping trip, Dad is checking the car to see if any damage occurred when they hit that big whatever-it-was in the road.”

Because this is the stuff of science-fiction and national imagination, I want to ask, does the Space Shuttle excite you? Do you think NASA is pursuing the right goals, or do you wish they would get the funding or inspiration to do something better?

7 thoughts on “Does the Space Shuttle Excite You?”

  1. I think they are pretty bad at explaining the “whys”.

    Why do we have an international space station?

    What benefits is it bringing our world?

    What’s the long-term plan? And what good will that bring us?

    I think if they did this, more people would be interested

  2. What interests me a lot these days is how we seem to be running up against _limits_. I might write a story about this sometime, so don’t y’all rip this off, please.

    But consider:

    – – check the recent Discover mag: it may _never_ be possible to take humans to Mars and bring them back, let alone travel to extrasolar worlds, not only due to the amount of fuel required, but due to prolonged exposure to cosmic rays (no friend to man despite the comics) and the awful distances involved even in traveling to so near a neighbor

    – – we may reach the point where, decade after decade, nobody beats the record for running the mile

    – – the stubborn way evolution behaves insofar as it’s actually observable rather than inferable: you get to the point where the animal can’t change any more, after generations of selective breeding

    and so on. I think this is interesting because (I believe) most human generations have lived with and accepted the idea of limits on how long you can live, how far you can go, etc. But in our time we have wanted to think that there are few if any limits, in principle; but it looks like we are coming up against more and more of them.

    I wonder (supposing this is true) if this will have interesting fallout culturally…

  3. Perhaps it will lead to anarchism.

    I think the statement about Mars travel is the type of statement many have said about everything in the past, that it can’t be done. Later, someone learns something new about the world, and the impossible becomes possible. I think it’s simple hubris for men to deny that certain things can be done.

    But records for running the mile? I believe it. Our bodies do have limits, and at some point, if it hasn’t already happened, someone will run as fast as is humanly possible.

    Of course, I think it’s funny how evolution defies observation, darn it. I mean you’d think if Darwin was right . . . but that’s ridiculous. Of course, he’s right. I mean we know that bird’s beaks grow longer or shorter and lizards can grow back their tails. That’s shows that birds evolved into lizards or from them–whatever. It’s proof of something.

  4. There was a little discussion about this post here at work, and I though you would be interested…. It is e-mail so read from the bottom up.

    —–Original Message—–

    From: Davis

    Sent: Friday, July 14, 2006 10:47 AM

    Subject: RE: Does the Space Shuttle Excite You?

    If we have the technology to build factories to mass produce metals and chemicals in space, we should have the technology to offer more affordable prices in the space tourist market. 🙂

    —–Original Message—–

    From: Tim

    Sent: Friday, July 14, 2006 10:36 AM

    Subject: RE: Does the Space Shuttle Excite You?

    I see NASA taking on more of the exploration/scientific role while the private sector will offer tourism, but there are only some many bored multi-million/billionaires who will plop down that kind of cash to get their time in orbit. I see the private sector going more for payload delivery of satellites, mass production of metals and chemicals that can only be done in mico or zero G, or something that someone with my feeble mind hasn’t even thought of yet.

    —–Original Message—–

    From: Davis

    Sent: Friday, July 14, 2006 10:30 AM

    Subject: RE: Does the Space Shuttle Excite You?

    I think NASA still has its place in deep space exploration. I just do not think the ISS was the right move for them. I think they had bad administration before, but are now on the right track with future plans.

    I agree about the private sector, but that will be more for tourism. No one in the private sector is going to spend billions of dollars to send rovers to Mars in the name of science. I think the advances in space technology will grow rapidly if we can get the privet sector involved, but we will still need NASA to take advantage of these new technologies for scientific purposes.

    —–Original Message—–

    From: Tim

    Sent: Friday, July 14, 2006 10:09 AM

    Subject: RE: Does the Space Shuttle Excite You?

    I’m more excited by the X Prize and private sector space exploration. NASA has gotten too huge, unwieldy, and beholden to public opinion. Nothing drives exploration, and stretching the bounds of what can be done than good old profit and greed.

    I’m personally waiting for the geo-synchronous launching platforms that are tethered to the Earth by a nano-carbon ribbon on a remote South Pacific island. No more shooting things up into the sky, just an hour or so elevator ride up to the platform.

    —–Original Message—–

    From: Gid

    Sent: Friday, July 14, 2006 9:36 AM

    Subject: Does the Space Shuttle Excite You?

    Check out the comments. Looks like it could be an interesting discussion.

  5. Thanks for sharing, Gid. I wonder if average people will get behind space tourism even though they can’t go out themselves. The industry angle sounds impressive.

  6. Phil, yes, I understand about not saying “It can never be done.” But it looks more like it never can be done (travel outside the solar system, for example) than probably most people realize. I’m saying that many people probably assume that if huge enough amounts of money were spent on the problems, a way would be found for humans to travel to other solar systems; but it really is possible that they will never even make it to Mars. Don’t you think that most people assume that, if the world doesn’t go up in flames from war, civilization doesn’t end due to global warming or plague, etc., – – then a hundred years from now, people will have been to Mars and maybe have left the solar system? And yet the real science seems to be that people still will not have been to Mars.

    I’m not a misanthropist, and yet I’m almost more interested in living another 30 or 40 years in order to see confirmation of these suspicions than I am because I think there are great new wonders coming (disasters not occurring).

    Of course it’s in God’s hands. There may be something built into His laws of nature that will enable humans to do these things.

  7. You’re probably right that most people assume we will put a base of some kind on Mars or the Moon within 100 years. There may be a Yahoo! Answers question about that. There are a few, in fact.

    But still I wonder what the good science was saying long before we split atoms or understood DNA to the extent we do. What did it say about energy and health? If the Lord allows the world to live in peace for a few more centuries, I think we would learn much, much more about the world such that we could do things like this or live in the tundra or underwater. I don’t know.

    I didn’t think you were saying efficient space travel couldn’t ever be done. I thought you were stating an argument. Still, I think it’s inaccurate to say something can never be done. It’s better to give the reasons we can’t do it now and wonder if we’ll overcome them in the future. But I don’t know anything really.

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