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Krauthammer: America has been lost in space. It's time to find our nerve again
The Weekly Standard ^ | 01/31/2000, Volume 005, Issue 19 | Charles Krauthammer

Posted on 01/09/2004 10:23:59 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife

If you were to say to a physicist in 1899 that in 1999, a hundred years later . . . bombs of unimaginable power would threaten the species; . . . that millions of people would take to the air every hour in aircraft capable of taking off and landing without human touch; . . . that humankind would travel to the moon, and then lose interest . . . the physicist would almost certainly pronounce you mad.

--Michael Crichton

I - WHAT MANNER OF CREATURE ARE WE? It took 100,000 years for humans to get inches off the ground. Then, astonishingly, it took only 66 to get from Kitty Hawk to the moon. And then, still more astonishingly, we lost interest, spending the remaining 30 years of the 20th century going around in circles in low earth orbit, i.e., going nowhere.

Last July, the unmanned Lunar Prospector probe was sent to find out whether the moon contains water. It was a remarkable venture, but even more remarkable was the fact that Prospector was the first NASA spacecraft, manned or unmanned, to land on the moon since the last Apollo astronaut departed in 1972. Twenty-seven years without even a glance back.

We remember the late 15th and 16th centuries as the Age of Exploration. The second half of the 20th was at one point known as the Space Age. What happened? For the first 20 years we saw space as a testing ground, an arena for splendid, strenuous exertion. We were in a race with the Soviets for space supremacy, and mobilized for it as for war. President Kennedy committed all of our resources: men, materiel, money, and spirit. And he was bold. When he promised to land a man on the moon before the decade was out, there were only eight and a half years left. At the time, no American had even orbited the earth.

The Apollo program was a triumph. But the public quickly grew bored. The interview with the moon-bound astronauts aboard Apollo 13 was not even broadcast, for lack of an audience. It was only when the flight turned into a harrowing drama of survival that an audience assembled. By Apollo 17, it was all over. The final three moonshots were canceled for lack of interest.

Looking to reinvent itself, NASA came up with the idea of a space shuttle ferrying men and machines between earth and an orbiting space station. It was a fine idea except for one thing: There was no space station. Skylab had been launched in May 1973, then manned for 171 days. But no effort was made to keep its orbit from decaying. It fell to earth and burned. We were left with an enormously expensive shuttle--to nowhere.

The shuttle has had its successes--the views of earth it brought back, the repairs to the Hubble space telescope it enabled. But it has been a dead end scientifically and deadening spiritually. There is today a palpable ennui with space. When did we last get excited? When a 77-year-old man climbed into the shuttle in November 1998 for a return flight. That was the most excitement the shuttle program had engendered in years--the first time in a long time that a launch and the preparations and even the preflight press conference had received live coverage. Televisions were hauled into classrooms so kids could watch.

But watch what? The fact is that we were watching John Glenn reprise a flight he'd made 36 years earlier. It is as if the Wright Brothers had returned to Kitty Hawk in 1939 to skim the sand once again, and the replay was treated as some great advance in aviation.

The most disturbing part of the Glenn phenomenon was the efflorescence of space nostalgia--at a time when space exploration is still in its infancy. We have not really gone anywhere yet, and we are already looking back with sweet self-satisfaction.

The other flutter of excitement generated by the shuttle program occurred a few years earlier when Shannon Lucid received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor for a long-duration flight in low earth orbit. A sign of the times. She is surely brave and spunky, but the lavish attention her feat garnered says much about the diminished state of our space program. Endurance records are fine. But the Congressional Space Medal of Honor? It used to be given to the likes of Alan Shepard and John Glenn, who had the insane courage to park themselves atop an unstable, spanking-new, largely untested eight-story bomb not knowing whether it would blow up under them. Now we give it for spending six months in an orbiting phone booth with a couple of guys named Yuri.

II - WHAT HAPPENED? Where is the national will to explore? We are stuck along some quiet historical sidetrack. The fascination today is with communication, calculation, miniaturization, all in the service of multiplying human interconnectedness. Outer space has ceded pride of place to the inner space of the Internet. In fact, space's greatest claim on our interest and resources currently rests on the fact that satellites allow us to page each other and confirm that 9:30 meeting about the new Tostitos ad campaign.

The excitement surrounding Shannon Lucid's six months of sponge baths and Russian food aboard Mir is a reflection of the quiet domesticity of this inward-turning time. Perhaps it is the exhaustion after 60 years of world war, cold and hot, stretching right up to the early 1990s. The "Seinfeld "era is not an era for Odyssean adventures. Now is a time for home and hearth--the glowing computer screen that allows endless intercourse with our fellow humans.

Another reason for the diminishing drive for planetary exploration is, perversely, the fruits of the moon landing itself--and in particular that famous photograph of earth taken by the Apollo astronauts during the first human circumnavigation of another celestial body.

"Earthrise" had an important effect on human consciousness. It gave us our first view of earth as it is seen from God's perspective: warm, safe, serene, blessed. It created a kind of preemptive nostalgia for earth, at precisely the moment when earthlings were finally acquiring the ability to leave it.

It is no surprise that "Earthrise" should have become such a cultural icon, particularly for the environmental Left. It offered the cosmic equivalent of the call to "Come home, America" issued just four years after the picture was taken.

That photo and the ethos it promoted--global, sedentary, inward-looking--were the metaphysical complement to the political arguments made at the time, and ever since, for turning our gaze from space back to earth. These are the familiar arguments about social priorities: Why are we spending all this money on space, when there is poverty and disease and suffering at home?

It is a maddening question because, while often offered in good faith, it entirely misses the point. Poverty and disease will always be with us. We have spent, by most estimates, some $5 trillion trying to abolish poverty in the United States alone. Government is simply not very good at solving social problems. But it can be extremely good at solving technical problems. The Manhattan Project is, of course, the classic case. As are the various technological advances forged in war, from radar to computers.

Concerted national mobilization for a specific scientific objective can have great success. This is in sharp contrast to national mobilization for social objectives, which almost invariably ends in disappointment, waste, and unintended consequences (such as the dependency and deviancy spawned by the massive welfare programs and entitlements of the sixties and the seventies--the Left's preferred destination for the resources supposedly squandered on space).

But more exasperating than the poor social science and the misapprehension about the real capacities of government is the tone-deafness of the earth-firsters to the wonder and glory of space, and to the unique opportunity offered this generation. How can one live at the turn of the 21st century, when the planets are for the first time within our grasp, and not be moved by the grandeur of the enterprise?

NASA administrators like to talk about science and spinoffs to justify the space program. Well, the study of bone decalcification in near-earth weightlessness is fine, but it is hardly the motor force behind President Kennedy's ringing declaration, "We choose to go to the Moon." That is not why we, as a people and as a species, ventured into the cosmos in the first place.

Teflon and pagers are nice, too, and perhaps effective politically in selling space. But they are hardly the point. We are going into space for the same reason George Mallory climbed Everest: Because it is there. For the adventure, for the romance, for the sheer temerity of venturing into the void.

And yet, amid the national psychic letdown that followed the moon landings and is still with us today, that kind of talk seems archaic, anachronistic. So what do we do? We radically contract our horizons. We spend three decades tumbling about in near-earth orbit. We become expert in zero-G nausea and other fascinations. And when we do venture out into the glorious void, we do it on the very cheap, to accommodate the diminished national will and the pinched national resources allocated for exploration.

The reason NASA administrator Daniel Goldin adopted the "faster, better, cheaper" approach is that he was forced to. He was rightly afraid that when you send a $1 billion probe loaded with experiments and hardware and it fails (as happened to the Mars Observer in 1993), you risk losing your entire congressional backing--and your entire program. He had little choice but to adopt a strategy of sending cheaper but more vulnerable probes in order to lessen the stakes riding on each launch. Probes like the Mars Polar Lander.

III - WHEN THE MARS POLAR LANDER disappeared last month, the country went into a snit. The public felt let down, cheated of the exotic entertainment NASA was supposed to deliver. The press was peeved, deprived of a nice big story with lovely pictures. Jay Leno, the nation's leading political indicator, was merciless. ("If you're stuck for something to get NASA for Christmas, you can't go wrong with a subscription to Popular Mechanics. . . . But they're not giving up. NASA said today they're gonna continue to look for other forms of intelligent life in the universe. And when they find it, they're gonna hire him.") And Congress preened, displaying concern, pulling its chin and promising hearings on the failure of the last three Mars missions. This will be a bit of Kabuki theater in which clueless politicians, whose greatest mathematical feat is calculating last week's fund-raising take, will pinion earnest scientists about why they could not land a go-cart on the South Pole of a body 400 million miles away on a part of the planet we had never explored.

In other words, we are in for a spell of national bellyaching and finger-pointing which will inevitably culminate in the crucifixion of a couple of NASA administrators, a few symbolic budget cuts, and a feeling of self-satisfaction all around.

The biggest scandal of the Mars exploration projects is not that a few have failed, but the way the nation has reacted to those failures. A people couched and ready, expectant and entitled, armed with a remote control yet denied Martian pictures to go with their "Today" show coffee, will be avenged.

Who is to blame for the Mars disasters? Not the scientists, but the people who will soon be putting them on trial.

Landing on another planet is very hard. And landing on its South Pole, terra incognita for us, is even harder. As one researcher put it, this is rocket science. "Look at the history of landers on Mars," professor Howard McCurdy of American University told the Washington Post. "Of twelve attempts, three have made it. The Soviets lost all six of theirs. . . . Mars really eats spacecraft."

Something this hard requires not just technology--which we have--but will, which we don't. And national will is expressed in funding. Since the glory days of Apollo, space exploration has progressively been starved. Today, funding for NASA is one fifth what it was in 1965, less than 0.8 percent of the federal budget.

And not only has the overall NASA budget declined, but so has the fraction allocated to both manned and unmanned exploration of the moon and the planets. The budget has been eaten by the space shuttle and the low-earth-orbit space station being built two decades late to finally provide a destination for the wandering shuttle.

Then there is what NASA calls "mission to planet earth," a program devoted to studying such terrestrial concerns as ozone, land use, climate variability, and such. A nice idea. But it used to be NASA's mission to lift us above ozone and land and climate to reach for something higher. The whole idea of space exploration was to find out what is out there.

The cost of the Mars Polar Lander was $165 million. In an $8 trillion economy, that is a laughable sum. "Waterworld" cost more. The new Bellagio hotel in Vegas could buy eight Polar Landers with $80 million left over for a bit of gambling. To put it in terms of competing space outlays, $165 million is less than half the cost of a shuttle launch. For the price of a single shuttle mission (launch, flight time, landing, and overhead) we could have sent two Mars Polar Landers and gotten $70 million back in change.

Planetary exploration is so hamstrung financially that the Polar Lander--which NASA last week officially declared dead--sent no telemetry during its final descent onto the planet. That was to save money. We'll never know what went wrong. Adding a black box, something to send simple signals to tell us what happened, would have cost $5 million. Five million! That doesn't buy one minute of air time on the Super Bowl.

The hard fact is that the kind of cheap, fast spacecraft NASA has been forced to build does reduce the loss in case of failure. But it increases the chance of failure. You cannot build in the kind of backup systems that go into the larger craft we sent exploring in the past. The Viking missions that 25 years ago touched down on Mars and gave us those extraordinary first pictures of its surface, and the Voyager spacecraft that gave us magnificent flybys of the entire solar system, typically cost 10 to 20 times more than the new "faster, better, cheaper" projects.

It is a travesty that the very same Congress that has squeezed funding for these programs will now be conducting the inquisition to find out why this shoestring operation could not produce another spectacular success. But we can't just blame the politicians. This is a democracy. They are responding to their constituency. Their constituency is disappointed that it received no entertainment from the Mars Polar Lander, for which the average American contributed the equivalent of half a cheeseburger. If we had had the will to devote a whole cheeseburger to a Mars lander, it could have been equipped with redundant systems, and might have succeeded.

IV - THE FAULT, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves. What then to do? If we are going to save resources in acknowledgment of the diminished national will to explore, we should begin by shutting the maw that is swallowing up so much of the space budget: the shuttle and the space station. It is not as if we have nowhere to go but endlessly around earth. Recent discoveries have given us new ways and new reasons for establishing a human presence on the moon and on Mars.

Until a few years ago, it could have been argued that a moon base was impractical, and human Mars exploration even more so. But there is evidence that there may be water on the moon (in the form of ice, of course). And water, there as here, is the key to everything. It could provide both life support and fuel. Similarly, the fact that there is ice on Mars has led to a revolution in thinking about how we can travel there and back. Instead of carrying huge stores of fuel, which would make the launch vehicle enormously expensive and cumbersome, we could send unmanned spacecraft ahead. They would land on Mars and turn the water into life support and fuel. (If you split water, you get hydrogen and oxygen, precisely the gases that you need for life and for propulsion.) Astronauts could travel fairly light, arriving at a place already prepared with life-sustaining water, oxygen, and hydrogen for the flight back.

The moon and Mars are beckoning. So why are we spending so much of our resources building a tinker-toy space station? In part because, a quarter-century late, we still need something to justify the shuttle. Yet the space station's purpose has shrunk to almost nothing. No one takes seriously its claims to be a platform for real science. And the original idea--hatched in the 1950s--that it would be a way station to the moon and Mars, was overtaken in the sixties when we found more efficient ways to fully escape earth's gravitational well.

The space station's main purpose now appears to be . . . fostering international cooperation. It became too expensive for the United States to do alone, and so we decided to share the cost and control. It provides a convenient back door for American funding of the bankrupt Russian space program. We send Russia the money to build its space station modules. This is supposed to promote friendship and keep Russian rocket scientists from moving to Baghdad.

The cost to the United States? Twenty-one billion dollars, enough to support 127 Polar Landers. Instead of squandering $21 billion on a weightless United Nations (don't we have one of these already?), we should be directing our resources at the next logical step: a moon base. It would be a magnificent platform for science, for observation of the universe, and for industry. It would also be good training for Mars. And it would begin the ultimate adventure: the colonization of other worlds.

In 1991, the Stafford Commission recommended the establishment of permanent human outposts on the moon and on Mars by the early decades of this century. Rather than frittering away billions on the space station, we should be going right now to the moon--where we've been, where we know how to go, and where we might very well discover life-sustaining materials. And from there, on to the planets.

In the end, we will surely go. But how long will it take? Five hundred years from now--a time as distant from us as is Columbus--a party of settlers on excursion to Mars's South Pole will stumble across some strange wreckage, just as today we stumble across the wreckage of long-forgotten ships caught in Arctic ice. They'll wonder what manner of creature it was that sent it. What will we have told them? That after millennia of gazing at the heavens, we took one step into the void, then turned and, for the longest time, retreated to home and hearth? Or that we retained our nerve and hunger for horizons, and embraced our destiny?

Charles Krauthammer is a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post, an essayist for Time, and a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: destiny; exploration; humanity; krauthammer; moon; space
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Back to the Moon. This time to stay.
1 posted on 01/09/2004 10:24:00 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: All

"Facts are stubborn things, and whatever may be our
wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions,
they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
- John Adams -


Make your statement.


2 posted on 01/09/2004 10:25:35 AM PST by Support Free Republic (If Woody had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened!)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Back to the Moon. This time to stay.

We shouldn't intend to stay on the moon. The moon would be a springboard to launch us into the deep end, and we won't look back. Head that Pontiac GTO down an endless highway with no speed limit. The power. It's American, can't you feel it? Sorry, Michael, you're stuck in the mud, can we give you a tow?

3 posted on 01/09/2004 10:30:37 AM PST by RightWhale (How many technological objections will be raised?)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
If Kraut wants to go to the moon, he can pay for it himself.
4 posted on 01/09/2004 10:31:39 AM PST by Norse
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To: RightWhale
We'll stay on the Moon and go to Mars as well.
5 posted on 01/09/2004 10:32:41 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
>Back to the Moon. This time to stay.

Forty years ago,
the high tech industry was
a domestic biz.

Big ticket science
was corporate welfare, but
the cash trickled down

to to US workers.
Big science was a driver
program for culture.

Now high tech business
is all based in Asia. Now
corporate welfare

will not trickle down
to Americans, it will
get sucked to Asia.

Big ticket science
will be a huge, whirlpool drain
of US dollars.

Asia will get rich.
(Richer.) And Americans
will get TV pics

that look like low-res
special effects shots from a
really dull movie.

6 posted on 01/09/2004 10:33:30 AM PST by theFIRMbss
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
It took 100,000 years for humans to get inches off the ground.
He's leaving out the entire history of balloons.
7 posted on 01/09/2004 10:37:29 AM PST by samtheman
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
The space station's main purpose now appears to be . . . keep Russian rocket scientists from moving to Baghdad.
As purposes go, that's not half bad.
8 posted on 01/09/2004 10:39:27 AM PST by samtheman
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To: samtheman; theFIRMbss
The Startracker imaged this spectacular shot of the sunrise, planets, and Moon. This color-enhanced image shows, from right to left, the Moon lit by the Earth, the terminator - or boundary between light and dark - into the dark side with the solar corona just rising over the limb, and the bright planets Saturn, Mars, and Mercury. Several dimmer stars can also be seen. The Startracker algorithm achieved a star match, realizing that the Sun and planets were not in the correct position to be stars, and ignored them.

More from Clementine Collection

9 posted on 01/09/2004 10:40:30 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
The cost to the United States? Twenty-one billion dollars, enough to support 127 Polar Landers. Instead of squandering $21 billion on a weightless United Nations (don't we have one of these already?),

LOL! But a large part of that $21B could potentially be covered by rich space tourists. IMO, NASA looked like bumbling bureaucrats when they attempted to stymie the millionaire "space tourist" who was willing to cough up $20M of his own money to make the trip - the more entrepreneurial Russians (!) gladly took his money.

we should be directing our resources at the next logical step: a moon base. It would be a magnificent platform for science, for observation of the universe, and for industry. It would also be good training for Mars. And it would begin the ultimate adventure: the colonization of other worlds.

In total agreement. But I believe that NASA needs to get out of the way of private companies who are willing to spend their venture capital to make the moon base happen, outside of the realm of government control. The NASA mission should be redefined: it should be on the cutting edge of research and exploration, but it should step aside for private concerns looking for return on investment to handle the more mundane aspects of space travel, exploration, and eventually exploitation. It can be done.

10 posted on 01/09/2004 10:43:56 AM PST by bassmaner (Let's take the word "liberal" back from the commies!!)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
The cost to the United States? Twenty-one billion dollars, enough to support 127 Polar Landers. Instead of squandering $21 billion on a weightless United Nations (don't we have one of these already?).

Yeeeooowww!!
11 posted on 01/09/2004 10:46:48 AM PST by tet68
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Americans cant get excited about the moon and MArs becasue hollywood provides the imagery for them in a more spectacular fashion. Put some IMAX cameras on these probes and lets see what happens.
12 posted on 01/09/2004 10:47:46 AM PST by finnman69 (cum puella incedit minore medio corpore sub quo manifestus globus, inflammare animos)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
As long as our sights are limited to this horizon we are going to keep dividing up the same pie over and over, cutting the slices finer and finer.

We have to lift our gaze higher, and get it in our heads that there is a very big world out there. As another writer said it, we have to blow the top off this mason jar.
13 posted on 01/09/2004 10:48:12 AM PST by marron
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To: tet68
LOL. The U.N. can fade on the horizon, who'd notice?
14 posted on 01/09/2004 10:48:33 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: finnman69
Check out the images at Post #9.
15 posted on 01/09/2004 10:49:31 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Beautiful blue-green
light -- earth-shine -- illuminates
a lunar lander...

16 posted on 01/09/2004 10:49:49 AM PST by theFIRMbss
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To: theFIRMbss
That's great!


Clementine image.

17 posted on 01/09/2004 10:51:46 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Norse
Krauthammer like to pay for everything he wants from your and my pocket. That is the typical liberal thinking. Don't let him fool you that he is a conservative! He is an ACLU card carrying member?
18 posted on 01/09/2004 10:53:15 AM PST by philosofy123
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Great article.
19 posted on 01/09/2004 10:57:36 AM PST by livius
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To: philosofy123
What an absurd jump in thinking! Because he wants the government spend money on space exploration, it makes him want to repress people's religious right!? Get real!
20 posted on 01/09/2004 10:59:09 AM PST by Pyro7480 ("We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid" - Benjamin Franklin)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
WHAT MANNER OF CREATURE ARE WE? It took 100,000 years for humans to get inches off the ground. Then, astonishingly, it took only 66 to get from Kitty Hawk to the moon. And then, still more astonishingly, we lost interest, spending the remaining 30 years of the 20th century going around in circles in low earth orbit, i.e., going nowhere.

Its the same with all manner of progress, Those who have no idea of the effort involved in these milestones become complacent and demanding. Consumers tend to have no longterm respect for dedication to progress, they think things just happen.

21 posted on 01/09/2004 10:59:23 AM PST by mylife
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To: philosofy123
He is also anti-freedom. He likes the idea of a disarmed citizenry.
22 posted on 01/09/2004 11:05:25 AM PST by marktwain
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To: philosofy123
Krauthammer like to pay for everything he wants from your and my pocket.

There are those among us who would pay for these things with our own sweat and blood, and do so willingly.

If I had the opportunity to be involved in such a noble vision, I would do so gladly, despite tremendous sacrifice.

23 posted on 01/09/2004 11:07:27 AM PST by mylife
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To: marktwain
Liberal social agenda.
24 posted on 01/09/2004 11:10:05 AM PST by philosofy123
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To: livius
Check out SpaceDev stock quote
25 posted on 01/09/2004 11:11:50 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Spectacular image bump. Thanks!
26 posted on 01/09/2004 11:14:45 AM PST by auboy (I'm out here on the front lines, sleep in peace tonight–American Soldier–Toby Keith, Chuck Cannon)
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To: auboy
Soon there will be many more!
27 posted on 01/09/2004 11:15:38 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Norse
If Kraut wants to go to the moon, he can pay for it himself. I'll be happy to help out a little with provisioning the expedition: He can take my mother-in-law to cook for him.
28 posted on 01/09/2004 11:18:43 AM PST by Kiss Me Hardy
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
With regards to the "What happened?" question... Jimmy Carter happened, then after a brief ressurection of space ambitions during Reagan's term, Clinton happened.
29 posted on 01/09/2004 11:19:40 AM PST by thoughtomator ("I will do whatever the Americans want because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid"-Qadafi)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Bookmarking to read later.
30 posted on 01/09/2004 11:23:20 AM PST by TruthNtegrity (I refuse to call candidates for President "Democratic" as they are NOT. They are Democrats.)
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To: mylife
Krauthammer is for abortion, wellfair, gun control, racial quotas,...lots of liberal social agenda.
31 posted on 01/09/2004 11:23:22 AM PST by philosofy123
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To: mylife
There are far nobler things to be done here on Earth at the moment than to waste money on this garbage.
32 posted on 01/09/2004 11:25:12 AM PST by Norse
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To: philosofy123
Krauthammer is for abortion, wellfair, gun control, racial quotas,...lots of liberal social agenda.

And I'm for exploration and Manifest Destiny

33 posted on 01/09/2004 11:26:36 AM PST by mylife
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To: thoughtomator
With regards to the "What happened?" question... Jimmy Carter happened, then after a brief ressurection of space ambitions during Reagan's term, Clinton happened.

We've entered a new era, where "good" happens.

34 posted on 01/09/2004 11:26:58 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Norse
There are far nobler things to be done here on Earth at the moment

Many of which are being done as we speak.

35 posted on 01/09/2004 11:28:12 AM PST by mylife
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To: thoughtomator
Clinton used his 1st Line Item veto to kill Clementine II, which was a Defensive Dept. Mission studying space based defense.
36 posted on 01/09/2004 11:28:18 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Clinton used his 1st Line Item veto to kill Clementine II, which was a Defensive Dept. Mission studying space based defense.

And Jimmuh signed away our right as the first on the moon to lay claim to it by signing the 74 Lunar treaty.

37 posted on 01/09/2004 11:36:36 AM PST by mylife
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To: bassmaner
But I believe that NASA needs to get out of the way of private companies who are willing to spend their venture capital to make the moon base happen, outside of the realm of government control. The NASA mission should be redefined: it should be on the cutting edge of research and exploration, but it should step aside for private concerns looking for return on investment to handle the more mundane aspects of space travel, exploration, and eventually exploitation. It can be done.

The X-Prize is a step towards that goal. The amount of interest in space travel, both from a "spectator" point of view, as well as an industrial/commerical point of view, have been larger than many expected. It has taken a while to catch-on, but 2003 was a big year, and 2004 could see a winner. Many of the contestants aren't simply looking to win the prize, but to use it (the competition and the interest) to springboard themselves into affordable space travel and launching for everybody.

If you can take the X-Prize and build upon it's success we can do three things :

1)Get NASA out of the trucking business. Some of the companies involved in the X-Prize could eventually handle many of the LEO trips that NASA currently does, both hauling people to/from the ISS, and satellites, satellite repair, and even cleaning up LEO.

2)Have a true revolution in space travel. With the amount of competition, companies will come out of it that can truly open up space to small companies and private citizens.

3)Get NASA back into doing the "big" things and space exploration.

With so many high-tech industries/jobs being shipped overseas, space-related industries in the US could be the kick-in-the-pants we need.

38 posted on 01/09/2004 11:40:47 AM PST by af_vet_rr
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
The response so far to this article really surprises me. I would have assumed that only leftist, anti-technology, organic, envirowacko types would have opposed big public spending on a space program. It looks like the lack of vision and imagination is actually much more universal, spanning even ideological boundaries. I was equally surprised when discovering how many conservatives actually believed in JFK assassination conspiracy theory.
39 posted on 01/09/2004 11:43:29 AM PST by omniscient
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To: mylife
mylife wrote:

There are those among us who would pay for these things with our own sweat and blood, and do so willingly.,br> If I had the opportunity to be involved in such a noble vision, I would do so gladly, despite tremendous sacrifice.

************************************

You and me both.
People who say we should not go would not agree with Columbus or Magellan either.

The Chinese are going.
Americans will not like the result if they set up on the moon first.
I consider this a matter of security as well as a noble endevor.
Besides!
We always get a tech-bump through space missions!

Tia

40 posted on 01/09/2004 11:54:39 AM PST by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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To: af_vet_rr
Thanks for the link - the X Prize sounds like a great idea and just what the space program needs to get moving again.

Let's just hope that NASA can work with the X Prizers and avoid the tendency to bog them down with bureaucratic stumbling blocks.

41 posted on 01/09/2004 11:55:10 AM PST by bassmaner (Let's take the word "liberal" back from the commies!!)
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To: af_vet_rr
Burt Rutan Rocks!
42 posted on 01/09/2004 11:56:21 AM PST by mylife
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To: tiamat
You and me both.

Glad to have you aboard

43 posted on 01/09/2004 11:58:31 AM PST by mylife
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To: philosofy123
Krauthammer is for abortion, wellfair, gun control, racial quotas,...lots of liberal social agenda.

And therefore... his proposal in this article is a liberal proposal?

(Just trying to figure out your point)

44 posted on 01/09/2004 12:00:22 PM PST by Constitutionalist Conservative (http://c-pol.com)
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To: omniscient
I believe the naysayers are just more vocal. Check out the MSNBC poll. They're about 1/4 of respondents.
45 posted on 01/09/2004 12:04:03 PM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: mylife
Ok, I was wrong to call it garbage. It would be a great thing to go to the moon and Mars. I think I just changed my mind. LOL. You're right. Take care brother
46 posted on 01/09/2004 12:08:32 PM PST by Norse
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To: Norse
No worries
47 posted on 01/09/2004 12:09:22 PM PST by mylife
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To: mylife
Space treaties are worth the paper they're written on. The Chinese know it too.

People's Daily US will attack from space? China and Russia call for space arms prohibition [Full Text]Since the launch of the first man-made satellite by the Soviet Union in 1957, space exploration, on which man has been devoting efforts, has not only brought huge economic benefits to mankind, but has also dramatically changed man's way of living and thinking. Statistics show that space-related industries grow at an annual rate of 20 percent, and the profit of international space industry exceeded US$80 billion in 2000, which is expected to increase by over 200 percent in the next 10 years. The human society has become inseparable from the outer space, and it has become a common concern of world countries to make peaceful use of the outer space and ensure space security.

Who is challenging space security?

The end of the Cold War not only dramatically changed the global security circumstance, but put an end to the situation in which arms race in the space was more or less restrained. Superficially, the fast development of space technology and its wide application in military fields are the main factors threatening space security. As a matter of fact, the disintegration of the bipolar structure has made America the only superpower and its boundless expanding strength and ambition are also the actual factors challenging space security.

The dual-purpose space technology and its wide military application have provided potential driving force to space weaponization. Along with hi-tech development, the demarcation between technologies for military and civilian uses has become increasingly blurred. This is manifested as follows: firstly, many key technologies in military fields are at the same time pillar technologies for the development of the national economy; secondly, the convergence of military and civilian technologies is the orientation for technical renovation. The integration of these two kinds of technologies has made it difficult for people to tell one from the other. A case in point is space technology. Navigation, detecting and communication satellites can be applied to both military purposes and economic construction. During the Iraq War, America mobilized more than 100 satellites of various kinds, ranging from highly confidential electronic reconnaissance satellites to meteorological satellites accessible to anyone.

Besides, the wide application of space technology to the military field has, on the one hand, enormously enhanced the US army's capability of global reach and real-time striking, enabling US troops to have a farther sight, faster action, more direct attacking and smoother communication than their enemies. On the other hand, due to the fact that the efficient use of space resources has become an important factor deciding the outcome of war, satellites and other space resources will therefore possibly become targets of attack and intervention during wars and conflicts. Civilian satellites, in particular, due to their role as supplements and substitutes for military satellites in wars, are much likely subject to attack in war. For this reason, the dual purpose and wide military application of space technology have, to a certain extent, intensified the danger of weaponization of the space.

The US space policy of one-sided search for absolute advantages may trigger off a series of chain reactions and new vulnerability in space. America's attempt, plan and action to control the outer space not only have long been in existence, but also have undergone new development thanks to the effort of the Bush administration. To take the military highland of space all to itself, the US army not only aims to rely heavily on the space, but also wants to dominate it exclusively. As clearly pointed out in the nation's space development guide, the "space control" defined by the US army is the capability to "secure its own freedom of action in space", and at the same time "prevent its rivals from having such capability". The Pentagon is organizing its space combat troops and Rumsfeld has ordered the air force to get ready for "carrying out fast and continuous space operations".

What worth mentioning is that the Bush Administration is developing its missile defense system, aiming at missile interception in space by 2008. An official with the US Missile Defense Agency this year stressed efforts made on developing a space-based test platform, which includes at least three satellites at its initial stage, while a Space-Based Laser (SBL) in the missile defense program will be put into test by 2012. The application of SBL will go far beyond the needs of a missile defense system, experts pointed out. According to the SBL project director, the extra functions of SBL include "defending/attacking anti-space-based fights (i.e., anti-satellite missions); "preventing enemy use of space (such as destroying enemy launching); preventing information input/output of satellites (likely to use low-energy beams to jam satellites rather than directly destroying them); "defending/attacking anti-space fights" and "striking high-altitude planes, cruise missiles and unmanned aircraft". Although the efficiency of SBL is uncertain, the adverse current of space weaponization has appeared.

Due to the development of space technology, existing international treaty framework for planning space activities fails to meet the new growing space security challenge. By now, international treaties relating to the prevention of outer-space arms race mainly include the "Five United Nations Treaties on Outer Space", "Partial Test Ban Treaty", "Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques", "Agreement Concerning Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies", as well as the "Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty" between the Soviet Union and the United States.

These treaties once played a positive role in preventing outer-space arms race, but limited by political, military and technological conditions, they are seriously flawed and unable to prevent arms race in the outer space. For example, the "Five UN Treaties on Outer Space" is weakened in its function of preventing outer-space arms race and laid perils for future weapons in space since it doesn't prohibit the deployment of non-WMD arms nor the development, production and use of outer-space weapons. Some treaties do have strict regulations, but they have ceased to be effective, such as the "Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty" of 1972. Some others fail to be universal because signatories are too few, such as the "Moon Agreement" of 1979. In a word, the current international mechanism for preventing space arms race is too weak to tackle the rapid development of space technology and weapons. The existing treaties must be added or revised, even new treaties need to be concluded through negotiations.

Tit-for-tat lines in space security

The new threat to space security has raised higher requirements on outer-space arms control. In recent years, although the international community has made much effort in this regard, the Geneva Conference on Disarmament, due to obstructions from the United States, remained stagnant in the aspects of preventing outer-space arms race and strengthening the outer-space legal system. Currently there are two lines of thought for preventing out-space arms race and securing space security. One is represented by America, which, in quest of absolute security, is against negotiations on space disarmament regardless of the interests of other countries. Now the Bush Administration is bent on expanding its space military capability, believing that actions must be taken to guarantee its security as long as they are technologically practicable. Washington's excuse is that America relies heavier on space than other countries do, so it is obliged to develop a unique space capability to ensure security. America declared its space weapons as defensive, then whom is it to guard against? Are they Russia and China, who have been taken by America as rivals?

The other line is represented by China and Russia. The two countries oppose outer-space armament and arms race, and advocate addressing related countries' space security concerns through international cooperation, this helps enhance international security and stability and is in the common interests of all countries. To this end, China has been making strenuous efforts to spur the international community to sign related international legal documents through negotiations and proposed to the Conference related documents together with other countries involved. China holds that a special committee for preventing outer-space arms race should be rebuilt as soon as possible to reach, through negotiation, agreements or treaties with legal effect for preventing outer space arms race.

To ensure the effectiveness of the treaties China suggested that they must contain the following articles: prohibition of test, deployment and use of any weapon, weapon system and their components in outer space; prohibition of test, deployment and use of any weapon, weapon system and their components used for outer-space war on land, sea and in the atmosphere; prohibition of the use, or threat of use, of weapons on outer-space objects; prohibition of helping and encouraging other countries, groups and international organizations to participate in activities forbidden by the treaty.

The existence of the two completely different lines shows that the international community must take immediate actions to bring the outer-space weapon control into track. Once a legal binding agreement on space disarmament is reached, it will help remove an important unstable factor in future international security and ensure the continuous peaceful use of space. [End]

48 posted on 01/09/2004 12:10:45 PM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: mylife
I was a geeky kid.

When I was 8, my dad took me to see a sneak preview of 2001; A Space Oddessy.

I was enchanted by the whole thing, and went on to read sci-fi, do the Trekkie thing and watched every mission.

The day Challenger broke up, I was baby-sitting for a friend's geeky son. We held each other and sobbed.

2001 was a year I SO looked forward to as a child! I KNEW I would be "old" (41! LOL! ) when it rolled around, but when I was a kid, I was CONFIDENT that we would at least have a colony on the moon, and maybe more.

Instead, we lost our groove, gave up on space, ( mostly through cheapness and a lack of discipline ) and got Islamist Savages killing a bunch of folks instead.

Talk about shattered illussions!

Now I am NOT saying the two phenomenon are related... Had we kept up with the Space Program they would still hate us... but perhaps we could have used the new tech to increase our security or develop new weapons.

Tia

49 posted on 01/09/2004 12:16:08 PM PST by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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To: theFIRMbss
Thanks for the pic from 2001: A Space Odyssey! I, too, was enthralled with that stuff when I was a kid (I can still name all seven original Mercury astronauts!), but let's face it, the space race was just a proxy war. As a nation, we're as eager to go back to the moon as we are to Vietnam.

Krauthammer calls the 15th and 16th Centuries the "Age of Exploration". That's just revisionist thinking, those were simply grabs for wealth and power by European nations. All they wanted were colonies with raw materials and exploitable non-white people to give them an upper hand when they next went to war with their European neighbors. You can't really "discover" something where people already are.

It's perfectly fine to let robots explore space, there are things that machines could not do back in the Sixties, our Mars lander shows what robotics and computer engineers have accomplished in forty years. And, its all without unnecessary risk to human life, just to fulfill the "Captain Kirk" fantasies of a very, very few people. I remember a kids' book from the early Sixties called "You will go to the Moon," and it was all a crock of crap. I'm still waiting for my flying car, too!

50 posted on 01/09/2004 12:23:07 PM PST by hunter112 (If you live in a primary state, write in Tancredo until Bush dumps the wetback bill!)
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