Shuttle Huddle


Will there be any long-term implications of the Columbia tragedy? Is the fact few people even realized there was a shuttle flight going on until it crashed an omen that NASA is losing its magic or an encouraging sign that we now take space travel for granted? Is NASA helping us move ahead with space exploration, or holding us back? If these questions are not making your eyes glaze over, check out my article on the space agency's relation to privatization, and Brian's very sharp and very optimistic take on the near future of space exploration. (For those many kind readers who have written in about the fate of my Challenger article from last week: I'll put it back up in due time, but now is obviously neither the time nor the place. For those who insist I jinxed the shuttle, I assure you I didn't even know we had a shuttle up there until it broke up.)

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  1. We need to keep NASA bureaucrats out of the arguement of how to get to Lower Earth Orbit (LEO). Let private companies compete for the business of sending cargo to the International Space Station, and to put satellites into orbit. If NASA wants to focus on something, let them figure out how they are going to establish a VIABLE human colony on Mars. There are many ideas running around (especially on the Internet) but what has NASA itself produced?

  2. In order:
    Yes, there will be implications. If nothing else, the shuttles are getting too old, and have to essentially rebuilt after each launch.

    Yes, I believe that the public takes regular space travel (defined here as human travel to low earth orbit) as “normal”. It’s the difference between Lindbergh in 1927 and Pan-Am in 1957, flying across the ocean.

    Speaking as a life-long “space nut” and former member of NSS (National Space Society, successor to the L-5 Society), NASA is holding us back. It has degenerated into pork-fed bureacracy more interested in protecting its turf than developing new systems. Look what they did to the Delta Clipper.

    And if you never heard of the Delta Clipper, that’s my point. 🙂

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