Well, the country is back at it. Or is it? With the Chinese set to launch a two man crew in October, the US is once again looking to send a man to the moon. Of course the 2018 date set by NASA is not exactly tomorrow. It also isn’t the same as the “within this decade” challenge set forth by John F. Kennedy in 1961.
But once again we are looking towards the heavens. And of course, the politicing has already started including the possibility that the next President of the United States will just outright kill the whole program and possibly even close NASA all together.
The current NASA director, Michael Griffin, is also telling the media (USA TODAY Report) that the shuttle and the space station programs were a “mistake”. I wonder if this is because we don’t have a base on the moon as everyone who grew up with Apollo thought we would by this time, or if it is just to cater to those penny pinchers in Washington D.C..
Of course with a price tag of 104 Billion USD for sending a man to the moon, the current 16.5 Billion USD budget isn’t going to go very far. It goes to figure that with the pace of private corporate development in the space arena in the past few years that a commercial operation will make it to the moon and Mars before NASA gets there. Or maybe at the rate the Chinese are going, perhaps it will be them getting there first.
Thus far, the Shuttle has cost billions, as has the Space station. But why is this? It seems that everyone has forgotten how much Apollo cost. Especially when it comes to lives lost. They complain that we have lost 14 men and women in the numerous Shuttle missions, yet they forget that the 8 Apollo Missions cost us a total of 7 men, 4 of them in training and flight accidents.
Yes, there is a cost. It is both monetarily as well as in human terms. Yet those who went before, all went because they knew the inherent risks and because they believed they were doing something good for their families, their country and most of all, mankind as a whole. This is a spirit which has been lost on much of today’s youth who complain if they get a blister on their finger playing their video games. It seems that the attitude of those in the management of the space program isn’t too far behind that level of apathy.
Where is that wild-eyed fighter jockey of yesteryear who had the attitude that they could do anything. Much of the country followed them in this attitude and it put men on the moon in 9 years. All of this without having even put a man in space when the Kennedy challenge went forth.
The technology of the day also progressed at a frightening pace because the country put the sciences first and foremost, teaching those who came after much of what they had learned and encouraging them to think and progress. This is another aspect of life which has been lost on this generation and yet we do not even seem to be concerned that many of the technologies which the country always led the world in developing are now being developed in other countries
Now we are talking 12-13 years and possibly 15 years before even attempting a moon-shot and we are accepting this as status quo and normal. And with the dreams of the generation who lived through the space race and the cold war dying as quickly as they are, it will be a miracle if we even reach the moon by 2050.