Um, I can’t let this go without comment. Yesterday NASA’s administrator, Michael Griffin, was interviewed by USAToday. In that interview, he admits that the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station are mistakes. I completely agree.
This is the best move NASA has made in 30 years. The Space Shuttle program is a failure. The program has launched just over 100 times, and they’ve lost two craft. Would you get in a car that blew up once every fifty times you drove it? By contrast, Russia has continued to use the same technology since their space program’s inception over 40 years ago, and they’ve never lost a single ship!
Last weekend I was visiting with some folks and someone quipped in a disapproving voice that we’re going back to the moon using 40 year old technology. I kept my mouth shut, but it was tough for me. I wanted to yell, “have you even paid attention over the past 20 years!?!?”
Merging the best of shuttle and Apollo technology is absolutely the right direction for NASA. I’ll say more about going back to the moon in another post, but I couldn’t let this go.
See, while NASA has been putting time, money & energy into the shuttle and space station programs, other countries have started their own space agencies. There’s more than 30 of them around the globe. Oh, sure, you’ve heard of the Chinese and Japanese space agencies, but how about Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Norway, Sweden. Even Finland has one! Finland!
Now, there’s a lot of people at NASA that would like for you to believe that we’re working cooperatively with all of these agencies, and that’s true, partially. We’ve been working together with them on the space station. But what about planetary exploration? Um, no. We’re competing with them.
See, someone is eventually going to fully explore the Moon. And Mars. And beyond. And the first one that does gets to claim the resources that they find for their very own. Remember the exploration of the Americas? Like that, only planetary.
The good news is that NASA has experience, and a lot of the other players are still learning. This is why it makes such great sense for us to apply what we’ve learned through the shuttle to the Apollo technology from years ago.
Its all very exciting, really. If you, like me, want to keep up with what’s going on, NASA Watch is a great website which tracks what they’re up to.