Thursday, September 22, 2005

let's go back to the moon! c'mon, guys!

just read a brief article in the online edition of the UK paper, The Independent, about NASA's plans to return to the moon.


I dunno. as a kid, I loved the whole space thang: I was six when Armstrong hopped onto the lunar dust (okay, this is assuming, of course, that it wasn't all faked!) and I owned a copy of The Space Shuttle Operator's Manual (may still have it buried away somewhere...), but I must confess that the thought of sending up moon and mars missions makes me feel... well, a little ill.

not that I wouldn't love to go into space someday, not that I think it's not great to have a national project that floats america's can-do spirit boat---- but I've been looking around at our situation here, lately, and, uh, it kinda looks, uh..... bad, I guess you'd say, and, uh, I kinda think we shouldn't be toying with colonizing the cosmos with our neanderthal ways.

you know?

perhaps it wouldn't be too far off the mark to say that I think we should earn the right to stretch out beyond our little blue gravity well here. (besides, who would want to leave this paradise anyway? what a freakin' great planet this is!)

I have been reading Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy (comprising three books, Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars). really engaging sci-fi tale about the near-future colonization of mars. fabulously complex, multidisciplinary in approach, a gripping story that unfolds over 1800-odd pages. highly recommended to science enthusiasts, esp. those who love to dabble in many areas.

anyway, what're we doing with our brilliant minds? having them design a mission to send some more guys up to the moon. great. just seems to me like there's something more useful for them to do.....


At 9/26/2005 11:59 PM, Blogger Ernest said...

As a fellow space enthusiast, I gotta say I'm a little uneasy about the current venture as well.

It doesn't seem all that thought out - just a scaled-up rehash of Apollo. Wasn't the idea that we were going to move past a one-shot approach and develop much more sophisticated, less wasteful, less expensive ways to get into space? Wasn't the notion that, starting with the space station, we would actually learn to live in space for the long term? Build stepping stones in that hostile environment?

I'm not seeing how the current plan does any of that. And if it doesn't, It it's just about getting to the moon for a look-see, then I have to say it sounds like something robots can do better. If we're going to put people in space, then at this stage of the game it ought to be for something bigger and more permanent than what we did 30 years back.

And you're right - Robinson's Mars books are terrific (at least the first two - third one seemed like afterthought - though it does have a brilliant last sentence)


At 9/28/2005 12:49 AM, Blogger tess said...

Highly recommended, especially for those tempted to speculate on the possibility of a faked moon landing:


A DVD from the NASA archives. Actually it's a 3-DVD set, each DVD packed to the edges with filmed and audiotaped feed from the launchpad, the EVA, and NASA control.

For those of us of a certain generation, watching this stuff (especially the launch itself) brings back almost pre-conscious memories of watching, with our families, the whole miraculous thing unfold on TV.

At the same time, the fairly unsophisticated visuals, and especially the facial expressions of the pioneers themselves, tend to put the lie to any idea of the launch and/or landing having been a fake. (In short: they look scared sh*tless. Given the fact that they all knew their public image was as fearless heroes of the space age, that seems a pretty odd thing to fake!)

A further point: during one narrated section, the voice over (which I think is from the same vintage as the footage itself) states flatly that the Apollo machinery was tested more thoroughly than any other flying machine has ever been tested, that absolutely no flaws are tolerated, etc. It put me in mind of recent NASA disasters, and the reportedly PowerPoint-ish glossing-over of details that led to them.

Heck with the space-bidness ambitions of politicians -- it seems as if NASA could actually use a rebirth of the *engineering* spirit that made Apollo possible.

Not to mention those cool NASA paper hats. Never have space engineers in the movies looked so much like short-order cooks.

... whose 2-year-old now yells out, "Rocket Ship!" whenever he sees a photo or drawing of any roughly triangular, pointy thing, including a sketchy drawing of the Eiffel Tower ...


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