"We went to the Moon as technicians; we returned as humanitarians." --Edgar Mitchell

"We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the earth." --William Anders

Monday, July 11, 2011

Letter to Congressmen Regarding NASA Budget Cuts

     Photo Credit: Associated Press

I'm postponing working on my entry about my trip to see the last shuttle launch, because something much more pressing came up.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Hundred Year Spaceship... ON CRACK

I was reading an interesting article involving the shifting of tectonic plates, and it got me thinking: what if one person were somehow able to see the before and after?

So... I really don't want to do the math (and I can, just so we're clear), but I'm fairly certain that there is no way that a single person could last that long, even taking into account relativistic speeds. But let's pretend anyways, okay? Either we're bending the laws of physics so that this hypothetical person(s) could go faster, we're imagining a world with true anti-aging medicine, or we're dealing with some kinda wizard (or Methuselah).

Can you imagine what it would be like to return to a world literally transformed? Not just society, but the face of the planet. I suppose recognition would hinge on what part of the world was seen first; if our Methuselah saw the North and South American continents first, recognition would be relatively easy - they are the same shape, after all. But then, after a moment, uneasiness would set in... There are islands there that shouldn't be. And Antarctica is just... wrong. As more of the surface is seen, it would become painfully obvious that this is not the world that was left behind; same physical planet, but everything would be different. Too much time had passed.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Priorities, or Why Congressional Budgets Are Bogus

Organizing my thoughts when politics is involved feels a lot like organizing rocks. Or herding cats. Which is a rather appropriate metaphor for the whole charade, I suppose. The biggest contribution that politics has to the space program, at least once we really got started, is that Congress is where the funding comes from. Which also happens to be my biggest problem with politics.

I imagine this'll turn into a rant on the perceived cost of the space program versus the actual cost of the space program. I know that this has been covered before by other people, but I like to do my own number checking.

So let's establish some facts about the cost of the space program, shall we? NASA's budget for 2011 was just under $19 billion. Compared to your average household income, that's quite a lot!! But remember, there are 307 million people in the United States (you can find this out with a Google search), which amounts to about $62 a year per person. But that's counting dependents and those without income, so let's just look at households: with about 115 million households, that's $165 a household per annum. That's still quite a lot, but amounts to about half a dollar a day, per household. Most of those I know who are passionate about space would gladly pay twice that or much, much more! It would certainly cost less than the gaming habits of some people I know.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Reading Between the Orbital Lines

I read an article/press release/whatever on what's next for NASA today, and I have a few thoughts on it:

First, I love that it was made perfectly clear that NASA is still in the business of manned spaceflight and exploration.  I can't tell you how frustrating it is to hear people say "oh, well, NASA's not going to have a manned spaceflight program after the shuttle retires."  Uh?  HELLO!?  There are still American astronauts, employed by NASA, on the International Space Station.  Right now, that defines our manned spaceflight, as the shuttle has basically served as a high profile ferry to this orbital laboratory.