So far outside the box you can't even see the box from here.
Follow by Email
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Exploding totem poles
NASA's new Orion spacecraft just completed a successful test. I wish I was more excited about it. The space program was pretty cool when I was a kid. The Mercury, Gemini, and then Apollo programs were very exciting for a kid growing up. The Space Shuttle was supposed to make space travel cheap, safe, and ordinary. It did none of those things. That's government for you.
The world has the International Space Station, but we have to hitch a ride with the Russians. They are still flying what's basically upgraded 60s technology.
To be fair, the Orion spacecraft looks pretty much like an upgraded Apollo spacecraft. We are still sitting men on top of exploding totem poles to shoot them into space. It's disappointing that we are back to using rockets. The military has a secret space program that flies what looks like a scaled down space shuttle. Currently it's an unmanned platform, but who knows what it's capabilities really are? However, even if they could launch men, the craft is tiny.
I wonder if people like John Michael Greer are correct claiming that we will never truly be a space faring race. He makes some pretty solid arguments against it. The vast majority of scientific accomplishments rest on a foundation of cheap energy. Once the nonrenewable resources are used up, we'll have to drastically scale back our ambitions.
Now I'd like to argue with Mr. Greer. My heart wants to soar to the stars, but my mind suspects he might be right. The fact that we've slipped back to using Apollo type craft gives some strength to his argument.
The human race is still doing interesting science in space. The Europeans have just landed a robotic spacecraft on an asteroid after all. Commercial satellites for communication, mapping, and navigation will have value for years to come, but those services are being supplied using very mature technology.
Humans may never leave this little dirt ball in space and that would be tragic. Humans have always pressed on to new frontiers. It's clear now that current and planned spacecraft will only be able to carry a select few out of our gravity well, and they won't be able to leave the solar neighborhood.
Space exploration is going to need some serious breakthroughs to change all that. For the good of the human race I hope we do. Wouldn't it be great if space travel could once again capture the imagination of little boys and girls?
I live in an area of NH known as the Great North Woods. I'm in my dome-i-cile out in the county with my lovely wife and a varying number of family and friends
-part red neck, part hippie but all country. Experimenting and enjoying the adventure of life.