The Future We Dreamed Of

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July 2, 2006 at 5:40 am

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This iconic image, one that still captures my imagination and evokes awe as it did when I was a child, will cease to exist in 2010.

It makes me more than a little sad that by the time my two-month-old nephew, , is four years old, the Space Shuttle program will be no more.

Yes, the “” will replace it, but it’s Apollo-era space capsule technology.

Do they even need a pilot in the traditional sense, when return to Earth means “splashdown” again?

And as the International Space Station ages, even before it is completed, then what?

We’ll be left with a dying ember of the once-blinding fire of human curiousity about outer space, clouded over like the Hubble Space Telescope’s failing “eyesight”.

I don’t know how, but I hope to witness a Space Shuttle launch in person between now and 2010. I can’t fathom a future where spaceflight is more exciting from a civilian perspective () and less so from a scientific and human endeavor perspective (”to boldly go where no man/no one has gone before.)

and Dick Rutan are our modern-day Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Maybe they have something up their sleeves and future generations will have something equally iconic and awe-inspiring as the

was when it first ascended to space in 1981.

… ‘cuz I’m still waiting for my !

P.S. 70% chance of another “No Go” today due to adverse weather conditions at the Cape. I’m glad, actually. Even with Mom & Dad taping the launch for me (actually, burning it to DVD), I’ve been bummed/stressed that I can’t watch and process it live… especially now, given we’ll be on the road headed from DFW to San Antonio around launch-time if it lifts-off today.

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2 Comments

July 3, 2006

@

I know I should “do my homework” before making any comment, but. . . . Why?! What For?! Do the powers-that-be (from our country’s ‘leaders’ on down to NASA’s promoters/planners/cheering section) really believe that reverting to stale technology (read “Taking a giant step backwards”) is going to A- Capture the attention of bright young minds, and encourage them to strive to become astronauts, B) Encourage the public to become/stay interested in the space program, C) Advance NASA’s ability to explore the cosmos?

I will freely admit that I am completely baffeled by the plans to return to capsule technology!

“O.K. – the Spaceship Enterprise was very successful – let’s back off and concentrate on earth-orbits now.” “Sure, we can bring a replacement panel/motor/air-scrubber up to the Space Station – – -just give us months/years to ready a vehicle capable of carrying it!”

July 3, 2006

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We already know our country’s leadership has its eyes, for good or ill (that’s a whole ‘nother topic), elsewhere. Funding for space exploration, manned or otherwise, ranks somewhere below the Save The Spotted Owl Society, to hijack a quote from a movie we’re both familiar with.

That said, I admit I am probably taking an overly pessimistic view. I can’t fathom how all of the intelligent and energized minds in the U.S. and international scientific and aeronautic community could stand mute if we truly were taking a quantum leap backwards back to true Apollo-era human and cargo launch capability. Still, my reading on the subject thus far has yielded no “AHA!” moments that indicate this isn’t a sad case of politics killing a very good idea (manned space exploration with the capability to continue building/refurbishing a Space Station.)

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