Out of Space

I read somewhere the other day that nobody born after 1935 has walked on the moon. Because it’s now a thing of a distant, unrepeatable past. It sounded very sad.

Does anybody know why it was all shut down? And please don’t say funding cuts. Funding cuts are not an explanation. They are an excuse.

Why does nobody care any more about space exploration? If people cared, it would find some reflection in political debates, for instance. And it doesn’t. Isn’t it weird that people just lost interest somehow? I know it used to be a very big deal.

6 thoughts on “Out of Space”

  1. They’re doing it, they’re just not sending live people at this stage.

    It was so exciting and nervewracking. Thinking about it it was such a weird combination of high and low tech. I used to really worry about the return voyage, would they actually blast off correctly and get into the atmosphere correctly? And it was such a relief to see those parachutes open. One thing I didn’t think about then but do now was that once they splashed down, swimmers would jump out of helicopters to go and open the space capsule.


  2. As far as sending men to the moon, we’ve been there and done that REPEATEDLY — six manned landings between 1969 and 1972. There’s no point in doing the same thing over and over and over just for the sake of doing it. (Yes, it’s a shame that nobody Clarissa’s age has any living memory of those historic events.)

    NASA was smart to use its available funding since then to send HUNDREDS of unmanned space probes and landers to explore literally all of the planets in our solar system by now, as well as many of their moons. This is the current new and exciting news in space exploration. It just doesn’t get as much press.

    Trump and Pence are talking now about going back to the moon by 2024 as part of a grander scheme toward eventually putting people on Mars (which is fine if we don’t actually just stop with the moon trip again).

    Elon Musk is talking big about his company SpaceX sending a private manned mission to Mars within five years (also 2024) — don’t hold your breath for that!


    1. The robotic probes have ushered in a golden age of solar system astronomy. We’re sending a rotorcopter to Titan next, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a double mission to Uranus and Neptune – there’s a window of opportunity in the 30’s that would let us put orbiters around both. I was saying a few years ago that not if they sent men to the moon, if they sent me specifically, it’d still be worth less to me than the planetary mission they could build for that money.

      But then again, I admit I’m a complete nerd, and that most people don’t develop emotional attachments to Mars rovers or go check out https://eyes.nasa.gov/dsn/dsn.html for a minute or two when they need to relax for a few moments (quiet out there this morning, only Osiris-Rex (an asteroid sample mission) and two of the Mars orbiters are talking). I am very glad that NASA, ESA and the like are focusing their money on science, but there’s a meaningfulness in human beings reaching other worlds, and long-term, we need to get the hell off-planet (and off-solar system) anyway. I wish this was something you could still propose without it being drowned in “but-what-about-the-poor-here-on-earth” platitudes emitted by people with more money than sense.


  3. It was a race of rocketry and its capability to carry nuclear before, and it’s not now. Only reason you needed to care about space program development used to be fear for the immediate tomorrow and keeping pace with an enemy. Now it’s mostly curiosity with some long-term considerations you need three PhDs to genuinely care about mixed in.

    There’s still enough interest in space for there to be progress at a good pace without there being support for it at all levels of society. Pretty sure we’re better off.


  4. Former President Reagan occasionally said things that made sense.
    One of them: “If you less of something—don’t support it. If you want more of something—subsidize it.”

    It’s all a matter of inspiration, motive and priorities.


  5. Unless it would be for Mars, science does no longer benefit for sending people to space. So this is a good thing.

    Let the private sector develop this for tourism purposes.


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