Thursday, October 29, 2009

NASA Launches Ares 1-X

This is pretty cool:

I really believe the space program will be America's lasting historical legacy. I think if we could look into the future, say five hundred years from now, historians would most remember our contributions to space exploration. From landing on the Moon to sending robotic probes to the inner planets and the outer solar system, 20th and 21st century America opened a new frontier. The knowledge we have gained and will gain from continuing to push our technology to its limits is what will become legendary. As important as things like the health care debate seem today, future generations won't care about triggers and opt-outs. They'll want to know what we did to advance the human species.

I actually think the Bush Administration was on the right track with this. Back in 2005, Dubya announced the Vision for Space Exploration, laying out a plan for NASA to retire the shuttle, finish the International Space Station and get back to the Moon while planning for a manned trip to Mars. Now, the VSE is still inadequate in my view--it cut funding for unmanned scientific experiments, for one thing. It also plays into deep flaws within NASA that will unnecessarily raise costs, such as over-reliance on semi-private aerospace firms like Lockheed and Boeing, who make their living off of gaming government contracts. Plus, there's always a danger that the whole thing could devolve into "flags and footprints" instead of doing serious exploration. But overall, I'm encouraged by yesterday's successful launch and I hope this is the start of a renaissance for NASA's manned spaceflight operations--America should have the best space program in the world, and I think the previous administration was trying to accomplish that. There, I said something nice about G-Dub. :)

If you've never taken the time to watch JFK's "We choose to go to the Moon" speech, here it is. If you don't get chills from this, I'm not sure what to tell you.

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