0406:3 Space Shuttle

by timothy. 0 Comments

This selection commemorates the Shuttle Disaster of a year ago.

Last Sunday on NBC News’ Meet the Press, Howard Dean criticized Bush’s economics by saying, “He’s promising a trillion-dollar tax cut and a trip to Mars,” and I had to do a double-take because it was a literal as opposed to rhetorical statement. It can be argued that the new drive to go to Mars is partially due to the gross waste of expenditure and resources that the shuttle represented, and these year old articles articulate a view that NASA is a test-pilot boys club, fulfilling the baby-boomer tendency to squander potential for a yahoo good time. The third article is from last August and discuses the bureaucratic culture which allowed the disaster to happen. At least now it can said that NASA has a legitimate goal, and future generations will not consider the cost frivolous, anymore than we consider the Moon images we grew up with as a waste of money. – Timothy


Was the space shuttle useful? Not really | David Owen
“The scientific investigations undertaken during Columbia’s final voyage were similar to those conducted during Glenn’s mission five years earlier; indeed, they were similar to the experiments conducted on nearly every manned American space voyage that has ever taken place. For example, eight Australian spiders aboard Columbia added to our understanding of weightless web-weaving, a subject NASA first studied aboard Skylab in 1973.” (Article date: 4 Feb 2003)

Astronauts – Why they shouldn’t be heroes | Chris Suellentrop
“Before this past weekend, many Americans viewed the ‘Space Age’ as a kitschy thing of the past, like AstroTurf or I Dream of Jeannie. The great scientific challenge of the day, the one the president dared the nation to aspire to, was the creation of hydrogen-powered cars. Space? Been there, done that. As astronauts boldly went where many men had gone before, we forgot how bold they were. ‘It’s a job that doesn’t have anything to do with exploring space,’ NASA’s first flight director sniffed to USA Today in 2001. The Right Stuff flyboys had been replaced with nerdy tinkerers and scientists, seemingly as carefully selected for race and gender as a Benetton ad. […]In 1981, the buzz over the Columbia’s first flight was that space travel was about to lose its glamour. And the shuttle did exactly what it set out to do. We briefly achieved the dream of yawning as rockets hurtle men and women into outer space.” (Article date: 6 Feb 2003)

A harsh critique of NASA’s culture | Peter N. Spotts
“Until now, Mr. Chase adds, ‘NASA hasn’t been allowed to look higher than low-earth orbit for human space flight.’ The shuttle and ISS programs often appear to be ends in themselves, when they could well serve as stepping-stones to human missions to Mars or back to the moon. Such efforts also could boost broader public interest in human space exploration, analysts say, noting that while polls indicate support for the program overall, the public appears to show little enthusiasm for space trucks moving back and forth between Earth and the space station.” (Article date: 27 Aug 2003)

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emailed by Timothy on Monday 02 February 2004 @ 2:57 AM

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