Friday, July 01, 2011

Is This the End of the Space Age?

Long time listeners to BMU will recognize this sentiment. Even back in the 80s on my tiny little BBS I was saying that we should be looking hard and long as to what the Shuttle really meant in terms of space exploration. Now that even that system will cease to be within day, I have been saying that our glory days are done and now we little more than renters. Now I see that others are raising a hue and cry. I see that Charlie Jane Anders writing for IO9 is voicing valid concerns about what the end of the Shuttle program can mean to the US's presence in space. It is still painfully obvious that the public is confused as to what the question ultimately means. There is talk of probes picking up the slack and of course that will continue. These self same people though should remember that we put some very sophisticated devices on the moon but ultimately nothing replaces a human foot for genuine exploration.

From the IO9 article:
  • It is quite conceivable that 36,000km ( 22369.36 miles) will prove the limit of human ambition.
  • It is equally conceivable that human space flight, long the stuff of science fiction, will return to fantasy.
To me it was painfully obvious when Apollo 17 came home. We had to make do with the shuttle. The most powerful nation on the planet relegated to high priced furniture movers. Yes, the robotic craft out there are doing spectacular science, but was Apollo our first and only steps on another world? Is travel to other planets once again on the purview of science fiction?

Do you want to have your opinion on the health of space travel on record? Nothing big and fancy, just a yes or no about this - you can go to the economist and vote. [The Economist]


Dave Tackett said...

I don't think it's the end of the space age but it might be the end of the first era within the space age. It may be that we won't see another real space mission in our lifetimes, but sooner or later it must happen.

Perhaps sooner, if a sheep-like public can be inspired enough by the likely discovery of several Earth-like planets (via Kepler and other means) to vote out the subhuman pond scum that is running the country (both parties equally) and elect some adults.

If I'm wrong and this is the end of human space travel, then I pray we destroy ourselves in a nuclear holocaust because a sentient species that turns entirely inward instead of looking outward is not worthy of existence.

Beam Me Up said...

Maybe not the space age as it is quickly coming to be, but like the distinction I made in Saturday's program, an end to manned presence in space and not just a small fraction above the atmosphere. I really think the end of Apollo was the real end of space exploration done by people. When Barry called in to weigh in on this article, his comments really hit a nerve when he said that a manned space program was a direct reaction to our military needing men in space and until the military again feels such a need, there won't be anything like Apollo or even the shuttle program again. There is more than just a germ of truth there. But your right, its time for the sheeple to look up and exercise their vote for more than a place holder in history. Lets hope you are wrong then, otherwise it IS time to move aside and let another race accomplish what we may already have lost the will to do the really big and exciting explorations. I don't think we will need a bomb...there very likely will be a time soon that we will very likely die of embarrassment at what we have become and what we have lost.