SPACE PROJECTS: WHERE ARE WE?
Tom, our oldest, is a Trecky. Some years ago he and his little girl Jami would sit on their deck at night in Stilwell Kansas and wait and watch for the extra-terrestrials to come get them and carry them away. In those days, our countrymen were quite literally walking on the moon. Space travel was at the top of Tom’s ‘to do’ list.
Then, in 2005, President George W. Bush signed a presidential decree canceling the space shuttle program saying he couldn’t find any justification for funding a program that had no application.
Looks like China doesn’t agree with that. Their space program, run by the well funded military, has a ten year plan that includes opening a space station on the moon in 2020. Also, Russia is discussing a mission to Mars and even India is planning a manned space flight in 2016.
President Obama talks about sending astronauts to an asteroid, and from there, on to Mars. Tom would like to go on that venture but the soonest will be 2025. President Obama has tried to increase funding for the Commercial Crew Development Project, a NASA program which hopes to stimulate efforts in the private sector for safe, cost effective space transportation capabilities. Even though it meets Republican criteria for private enterprise, a coalition from both parties has blocked the plan. NASA will go before congress to try again in February.
Meanwhile, astrophysicists are engaged in breathtaking studies of the universe using satellites and powerful telescopes that travel through space. Looking past our own Milky Way Galaxy, many other galaxies have been found with black holes much bigger than ours. (Not enough space to discuss black holes here, but scientists say there is no chance earth will fall into one.)
However, NASA scientists and astrophysicists the world over are searching for planets in our galaxy. These explorers estimate there are 50 billion planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. Many of them, perhaps 500,000 million are in a climate zone which may support life. In our tiny portion of the Milky Way, there may even be a planet or two, perhaps more, with intelligent life.
If we don’t want to lose our place as the leader of space exploration, we better think seriously about funding it, either through private industry or government or both.
Tip: Steer clear of web sites containing information supplied by the Chinese. There may be mischievous people lurking out there who will merrily put viruses on your computer that completely wipe out your hard drive.