Friday, July 08, 2011

End of a Dream

Today was a sad day. Today was the last launch of the space shuttle. Someone commented that the shuttle was the last of the big cold war era engineering programs. It seems like its been downhill ever sense. While China is building the longest bridge and the largest dam, the fastest trains, we band aid decaying infrastructure. Thinking about this made me wonder if the true lesson of the cold war is that two sides fight and weaken themselves until a third can take over and become dominant. You see that in the animal world all the time.

We no longer have the ability to put humans into orbit ourselves. We are completely reliant on the Russians to get us to the ISS. And they're using 1960's technology. What about our 1960's technology? We threw it away. NASA burned its bridges so that the only way forward was with the space shuttle. Now that is gone. It never worked as well as hoped, but even that is no more. Its a sad day indeed.


K T Cat said...

Band aid decaying infrastructure? Baahhh. Nonsense. I can get from any point A to any Point B in the US, carrying any load I want, as fast as I care to drive.

As for NASA, how about this for an idea: Return to the moon with robots! Wouldn't it be cool to set up a colony of robots on the Moon? They could mine and smelt and build and interact and have all kinds of robot fun. It would be a great lab for artificial intelligence and at the same time they could be building housing for humans or an observatory or both.

Lift costs would be less because you wouldn't have to worry about life support and you wouldn't be sending them to really far-off places like Mars. You could mine the Moon all you wanted since there would be no need for EPA rules. Who knows what you would find up there.

You could tie in social media, too, since you could easily create a huge data pipe between the robot colony and Earth. People could watch the robots and maybe even interact with them.

I think it would be awesome.

Kelly the little black dog said...

I was never a big fan of returning to the Moon, but it makes much more sense than trying to get someone to Mars. The round trip radiation dosage to Mars would kill roughly half of those taking the trip.

I'm talking about the human presence in the low Earth orbit. Occasionally we we need a flesh bag to physically travel there. Right now the only game in town are the Russians, and their launches are pretty infrequent. It seems extremely incompetent of NASA to not have some alternative to the shuttle prior to shutting down the program. The news keep talking about private ventures for doing milk runs, but that is quite a ways off.

And as for our decaying infrastructure a lot of freight travels by slow unreliable trains. We just had the centeral east-west corridor closed down in Nevada for days. I don't know about your roads in Southern Cal, but the ones out west and the ones up north were a mess.

K T Cat said...

Another cool thing about robots on the Moon would be that the rockets would only have to go one way and the robots could use their empty hulks to begin building giant death ray lasers, err, green energy sources for the homeless!

Kelly the little black dog said...


Anonymous said...

great now we have to depend on Russia o get us to one of our satellites.
I guess that's part of the plan.
We Know the pres wants to weaken us but this is ridiculous

Kelly the little black dog said...

Care Bear may not have helped things by cutting NASAs budget, but the problem we face today is the result of decisions made a decade ago. NASA just don't plan very well for the future. They were prepared to punt on the Hubble and only kept it going because of public outcry. They were talking about ending the ISS before it was even finished.