Space, the Final Frontier… (Maybe not anymore)

Once again this has nothing to do with cycling, but one of the fun things about a blog is that the blogger gets to pick what gets posted.  (Who knows, maybe someday I will post something with a cute cat video or Kim Khardasian (yes you may hunt me down if I do!))

This though, is honestly something close to my heart, and I was reminded of it while reading the paper earlier this week.  Two of the engines for the Saturn 5 rockets that took our astronauts to the move have been recovered from the bottom of the ocean.  The good news is, one of these will most likely be donated to the museum of flight here in Seattle.  It will go great with our space shuttle training simulator we got earlier this year (I still think we should have gotten one of the real shuttles!)

The not so good part and the reason for this post?  The bottom of the ocean is where I believe our space program is at this time.  I know we have just recently landed Curiosity on Mars, and that is amazing, especially with all the discoveries it is making.  My hat is off to NASA for making this happen.  This success, though, does not make up for the fact that our astronauts now have to hitch a ride to the space station WE built.

Yes I know it is the International Space Station, and that many countries contributed to its components.  But without launches by our workhorse, the space Shuttle,

 image

there is flat no way that the thing would have been built!  Now, we couldn’t get there on our own if we had to! 

I grew up with men landing on the moon, Voyager, Pioneer and Viking Space probes, the future looked limitless!

This was reflected in the books and TV shows I read and saw as well!  Star Trek, Lost in Space, Space 1999. Buck Rogers in the 24th Century, the original Battlestar Galactica (I still think Starbuck should be a guy, even after watching the new ones!), Star Wars and Starblazers,  hell, even the Jetson’s showed the view of the future back then!  I read Heinlein, Asimov, Alan Dean Foster, Niven and Pournelle, all of which had the promise of us moving into space, not relying on just Earth anymore.  Reaching for and getting to the stars!

Shoot even shows like Quantum Leap or MacGyver were strong science and knowledge based shows.

Now, however, take a look at the books and movies that show the future. 

Before I go further, I need to stress that I have NO proof of what I am about to say here at all.  This just struck me as a cause and effect one day, and I have yet to shake it. 

Instead of a positive future, without the hope of moving beyond our one planet, we now get books like the “Hunger Games”.  I freely admit  I read all three books, and enjoyed them.  But my point is that I honestly think that kids now are more likely to believe that this is what will happen in the future.

Instead, of kids dreaming about being an astronaut, and making rockets out of boxes, they may think they better practice with a bow and arrow. (Not a bad skill to have at all, but not because you think the Hunger Games may occur!)  On TV, there isn’t one good Sci Fi (And I am talking space traveling Sci Fi. I LOVE “Walking Dead”!) show .  Luckily there are still good space science fiction authors writing out there, but they are vastly outnumbered by those writing books about the demise of world economy, an EMP destroying the infrastructure, and other end of the world subjects.

I even read a recent article that stated the rise of Zombie popularity is due to a lack of optimism in the future.  People think a world overrun with zombies (as long as they are one of the few humans remaining of course) is preferable to what the real future holds.  This makes me sad.

I do hold on to a couple of things though.  First, when you read or watch some of the best Space Sci Fi series, Earth is gone, but we still made it to space.  In “Firefly” (a great show!) they refer it as “Earth that was”, cuz it aint anymore.  Even Star Trek took place after a 3rd World War, and the need to overcome the aftermath.  This means there could still be hope.  Sci Fi writers have a knack for predicting the future. 

The other thing that is promising is that private companies are making moves into space.  Almost a year ago, a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft made it to the station and back.  I can only hope they keep improving and do even more!  Mainly because I will be PISSED if another country (China perhaps) makes it to the moon before we get back.  We need a modern-day Delos D. Harriman! (Heinlein’s “The Man Who Sold the Moon”)  We got there first, we have dibs!

Sorry for such a long rant.  I accepted long ago that I couldn’t vacation on the moon, but I truly still had hope that my grandkids might.  Now I am not so sure….

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2 Responses to Space, the Final Frontier… (Maybe not anymore)

  1. Jim says:

    Tony, you are writing about something that is near and dear to my heart. I feel your pain and I felt the same way as I watched the last shuttle launch in person. However, I will paint some hope to your doomsday scenario.

    You mention SpaceX, they are quickly moving forward with the Falcon/Dragon, I watched a launch just this month to take supplies to the ISS and it is getting closer to it’s first manned launch.

    You have no less than six firms building suborbital vehicles, UP Aerospace, Armakilo Aerospace Masten Space Systems, XCOR Aerospace, Blue Orgin and Virgin Galactic. The opportunity to go into space is better than ever, maybe you won’t be able to vacation on the moon, but you will be able to experience space and weightlessness, and most importantly, see the earth from space.

    XCOR is said to be offering flights by the end of 2013 and will be using the Space Shuttle landing strip for multiple landings per day.

    Recently, NASA has awarded $1.1 Billion to three companies that are close to providing a “taxi” service to the ISS, the aforementioned SpaceX, Boeing with the CST-100 that can be launched on existing rockets, the Atlas and Delta, in a joint venture known as ULA or United Launch Alliance, and a third group, Sierra Nevada (not the beer)

    In addition, the space program is filled with private companies looking to land and mine asteroids, the next big space boom.

    Sure, it sucks that astronauts have to learn Russian in order to get to the ISS, but there is a very bright future and for those that think the Space program is dying, it’s quiet the opposite.

    • Jim hanks for the insight! I watched the love docking of the Soyuz and e ISS last night, and I am happy even ey are improving (first one day trip). I will be very happy when I see regular launches from our turf again!

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