Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Utahredrock welcomes home space shuttle Discovery

Less than two hours ago Discovery returned to Earth at the Kennedy Space Center. America's manned space program is nearing an end for the foreseeable future, a sad state of affairs for a nation of innovators and explorers. This was Discovery's 38th mission.

One more mission is scheduled for September--that is the final scheduled trip of America's manned space program. If the shuttle fleet actually retires the United States will have no way to transport humans to space. The current plan is to rely on the Russians.

What would an American of the 1960s think of this? What do you?


Kevin said...

Unmanned space exploration is superior to manned in that there is no risk to life and that the cost of sustaining human life in space is exorbitant and unnecessary.

Consider the cost to repair the Hubble telescope by utilizing manned space flight versus the cost to build a new one. I'm not just talking about the cost of the mission to implement the repairs.

I not convinced the zero-gravity experiments are worth the cost, considering the science that could be done on Earth with that kind of funding.

There is a goodwill value to astronauts. Astronauts inspire kids and adults alike. But I see this more as a PR challenge to all of science, rather than something that should be maintained for the sake of PR.

Let's make better robots, ships, and vehicles. Let's get them into space.

Jim Breitinger said...

You make a good point, yet I am enough of simpleton to believe in the power of symbolism. Putting men and women in space represents something. Of course the hard science that we can get through what you're proposing is incredibly important too.

I'd just like to see us figure out how to keep a manned presence in space while expanding in other areas too. Yes . . . I want it all.

There's nothing quite like the idea and the fact of humans breaking the surly bonds of Earth.

If the Russians can keep doing it, we should be able to as well.