I sat in a classroom in Weld Central School in Keensburg Colorado, and watch the first space shuttle lift off for the heavens on a graining color television. Thinking that we will soon be exploring space the same way we started exploring ?the new world? in the 1600?s. Besides, how cool would it be to ?Boldly go where no man has gone before.?
On Thursday, July 21, with the landing of the space shuttle Atlantis, after 135 missions and 30 years, the space shuttles will be retired. The United States does not have a way to put a man into space, or into low orbit.
For the time being, we will be relying on the Russians and commercial interests to ferry people and supplies to international space station. To the best of my knowledge there are very few private transports to the International Space Station. With some development, maybe this could be a future vacation hot spot? Few people will want to go into space, and even fewer will be able to afford it. That means the only repeat customers will be governments. To help this along the Obama administration is giving private companies almost $6 billion to build their own rockets and ships. Is the space program headed to same fate as Amtrak?
Before Apollo 11, President Nixon directed NASA to look at some kind of reusable space craft, which lead to the space shuttle, an experimental vehicle that turned in to a space truck. At that time, we were planning, and coming up with new ways, and ideas, so when the Apollo missions ended, there was a new program getting started. Did we drop the space exploration ball by not having another program ready to go?
Back in January, 2004 then President Bush, stated we should go back to the moon. Establish a base then use that base as a launch site for ?deep? space exploration including mars.
To help that along we have the Google lunar ?X? Prize. $30 million to the person or group who sends a probe to the moon snap a couple of pictures and send them back to earth. Right now there are 28 teams working to this goal.
President Obama nixed the idea of going back to the moon in April 2010
“We’ve been there before,” Obama said of the moon. “There’s a lot more of space to explore and a lot more to learn when we do.”
Instead of going to the moon we are going to an asteroid, then on to mars.
To be fair, president is right, we have been there, done that. However, the last time we were there, we were tourists, got out looked around, picked up a few rocks (souvenirs) and hopped in our little space craft and headed home.
Going to an asteroid brings up all kinds of interesting engineering challenges.
But an asteroid, really?