Ideas have consequences. Humanity today faces a choice between two very different sets of ideas…On the one side stands the antihuman view, which…continues to postulate a world of limited supplies, whose fixed constraints demand ever-tighter controls upon human aspirations. On the other side stand those who believe in the power of unfettered creativity to invent unbounded resources and so, rather than regret human freedom, demand it as our birthright…
If [the antihuman] idea is accepted…then each new life is unwelcome, each unregulated act or thought is a menace, every person is fundamentally the enemy of every other person…The ultimate outcome of such a worldview can only be enforced stagnation, tyranny, war, and genocide…the central purpose of government must not be to restrict human freedom but to defend and enhance it at all costs.
And that is why we must take on the challenge of space. For in doing so, we make the most forceful statement possible that we are living not at the end of history but at the beginning of history; that we believe in freedom and not regimentation, in progress and not stasis…in life rather than death, and in hope rather than despair.” – Robert Zubrin writing in The Case for Space
Posts Tagged With: spaceflight
“Now, 50 years later, looking back on Apollo, it’s clear how that was probably the single most significant historical event in modern times, and it really shows us and the world what you can do if you work together and you work hard, keep to the plan, and plan your mission out step by step all the way to the moon. I wish we could do that today.
“I know the difficulty of doing anything in this huge government bureaucracy…But we still do incredible things. [The International Space Station is] the most complicated thing we’ve ever done, probably more complicated than going to the moon…We can still achieve things if we work hard at it and don’t change the plan, but part of the problem is we change the plan every four years.” – Astronaut Scott Kelly
Indeed, the reason why the Apollo missions were cut short (spacecraft for three more missions had already been built), and spaceflight has been a series of fitful starts and stops ever since, is because the government runs the show. Not visionaries who look past the next election cycle. Perhaps the private sector, which has made leaps in accessing space in recent years, will finally open the final frontier. Fifty years late, but better late than never.
Once upon a time we pushed the threshold. No, we broke it. Perhaps it’s time to remember that age, so we can reignite it.
Check out the the trailer for the upcoming film, First Man, the story of Neil Armstrong and the most dangerous mission ever undertaken.
Remember 1981? Yes, it’s a bit fuzzy at this point, but that was the year that manned spaceflight became normal. On the 21st of April, the Space Shuttle Columbia rocketed into orbit. Over the next 30 years, 135 launches were made by the fleet. For the generations who grew up or were born during this era, astronauts traveling to and living in space (on board the International Space Station) became commonplace. This normalcy hid the difficulty and danger that were behind the curtain.
Rowland White‘s Into the Black recounts the epic effort to design and launch the shuttle. It took nearly as long and was every bit as difficult as the Apollo program. In some ways it was more so: Apollo components had to work once; the Shuttles had to survive the rigors of launch and space over and over.
White recounts how the shuttle program was the final project of the Apollo veterans. It was also a fusion of a canceled military space program – complete with astronauts and launch sites – that would be combined with the civilian side. Technologies such as reusable rocket engines and protection from reentry were beyond state of the art. The drama that unfolded was every bit as exciting as what was told in From Earth to the Moon and Apollo 13.
Danger was never eliminated, but the later losses of the Challenger and Columbia were not, ironically, cause by failures of the orbiters. None of the shuttles ever failed, repeatedly surviving launch stresses and harsh environments that those of us earthbound cannot imagine.
While the shuttles never flew as frequently as envisioned, nor brought the costs of launch down, history will look back on them as making possible what comes next. We are already seeing the turnover of spaceflight to private companies. The International Space Station that the shuttles enabled is an orbital spaceport on the verge of becoming the staging point for new ventures. The government and politics often got in their own way in opening the frontier, but as Into the Black details, the astronauts of the Space Shuttles swung that door wide open.
Two weeks from tomorrow, on January 28th, marks 30 years since the Challenger Disaster.
Seems so long ago, yet it is one of those days people never forget. School was out that day, probably because of bad weather, and I remember watching on television the news showing the explosion over and over.
I will never forget.
We didn’t give up on spaceflight that day, but I wish more would have seen the real promise of the Final Frontier. Instead, many in government still see it as another “get-elected-for-a-few-years” opportunity. The vision of government sees only through the next election cycle, not seven generations hence.
There are those who are far more forward in their thinking. Those who are tired of the others who have given up on the human spirit of adventure. The spirit that created pioneers, frontiersman and explorers. That spirit is in all of us, even if those in power have forgotten.
By remembering pioneers are still needed, frontiers need explored and danger can never be eliminated.
Honor those who tried, those who failed, those who succeeded and those who gave the last full measure.
Let the future not say we gave up, forgot or ignored.
If we do, there will be no future to look back on us.
Normally we discuss very ancient history here, but this week ends the Space Shuttle program. While it never flew as much as intended, nor brought costs of spaceflight down, it did make it normal. Hard to believe it has been thirty years since the first flight in 1981. Like most government run programs, it was hampered by the changing whims of politicians, as has the entire space program. Ever since Apollo was ended early, the government has never embraced the grand plans and future-thinking legacies that spaceflight could bring. We are decades behind where we could be. For insight to what space travel could bring mankind, check out The Survival Imperative: Using Space to Protect Earth, Mining The Sky: Untold Riches From The Asteroids, Comets and Planets, The Case for Mars and Return to the Moon.
Energy. Resources. Exploration. Knowledge. A New Frontier.
Perhaps the next stage of human history.