Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Refreshing Change

And now for a refreshing change from the usual round of dismal racial and social news from America. Despite all the budget cutbacks, in spite of the billions of dollars poured down the rathole of Iraq, despite the clear mental imbalance evident in the behavior of the President of the United States, at least someone is still paying attention to Aryan man's ancient destiny to boldly go where no man has gone before,and attempting to fulfill that destiny. We're going to the moon again!

Okay, not a manned flight. And certainly not a manned flight to Mars, which is what we should be aiming for. NASA doesn't send out too many many manned flights since the last shuttle explosion in 2003--too much chance of a public relations disaster that will cut what little funding remains.

But NASA will send a second spacecraft to the moon with the launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, scheduled for October 2008. The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite will travel independent of the orbiter to search for water ice. Finding a source of ice that could be converted to potable water on the moon would be probably the greatest discovery since Columbus, since it would make possible an actual lunar colony one day, should the White man succeed in escaping extinction here on earth.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is the first of many robotic missions NASA will conduct between 2008 and 2016 to study, map, and learn about the lunar surface to prepare for the return of astronauts to the moon. Why, exactly, it has taken so long for astronauts to return after their early voyages in the late 1960s and early 1970s is a long and disgraceful story which we won't get into.

Basically, we got sidetracked into a shuttle program the purpose of which was to place all kinds of suspicious objects in orbit over the earth, with no time or money left over for exploring the planets and stars. The current unmanned probe missions will help determine lunar landing sites and whether resources, such as oxygen, hydrogen, and metals, are available for use in NASA's long-term lunar exploration objectives. Obviously, anyone living on the moon for any length of time is going to need water, food, and air, and better yet some capacity to create or supply these things from local materials through such things as established hydroponic gardens, oxygen generation from mineral breakdown or chemical processes, etc. rather than fly it all in from Earth.

One problem with America's space program is that with the mania for privatization combined with the desperation for funds, big business is being allowed to stick its oar into what should be an ideologically and scientifically pure national crusade. On January 10, 2006, NASA issued a request to "selected American and European industry" to allow businesses to provide "secondary payload concepts" to NASA. In other words, they're hawking for business for a space taxi service for corporate projects in a desperate attempt to raise the money the government should be providing. It is possible that the Simpsons episode where "Drink Coca Cola" or some other advertising slogan is blasted into the surface of the moon, making it a gigantic interplanetary billboard, might come true.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big deal! We could have been out of this solar system by now. Kennedy was such a pussy he canceled project Orion back in the early 60's.The first nuclear propelled space ship. A great idea killed by one short sighted jack ass.

11:13 PM  

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