The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Half A Century In Space

Posted on | April 10, 2011 | 3 Comments

by Smitty (via Digg)

Mashable has a nifty graphic showing major space vehicles over the last 50 years.

It was 50 years ago when people first flew in space. Here’s an infographic that shows you the spacecraft humans have flown to reach that great void over the past half-century.
With just two flights of the space shuttle left, what’s next? You can see Richard Branson‘s SpaceShipOne in the infographic, giving us a look forward at what’s waiting in the wings — vessels that might find a different financial route to space, relying on private funding rather than governmental largess.
All is not lost, though, for the U.S. manned space program. Even though NASA‘s Ares launch vehicles and their associated Constellation program were canceled because of budget constraints, NASA selected SpaceX and its Falcon launch vehicles and Dragon spacecraft for the space agency’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.

Space is one of the areas where having the federal government scoop up cash from everyone makes some sense. It’s important from a national defense standpoint, which is a proper federal task. It also drives technical innovation, for example, integrated circuits. This is the law of unintended consequences playing out in a good way.

I was born in the year that Niel Armstrong put the first human print on the moon. I hope that the Apollo program does not prove to have been the peak of U.S. space endeavor. However, the federal government has looked down to the individual on the ground, through social programs, rather than up. Sure, they’ve secured votes now, at the expense of the frontier above.

A big chunk of the national come-to-Beavis meeting over the next 18 months will have to focus on what level of government owns what tasks. Why Planned Parenthood is a federal task eludes me. If they screwed up and left me in charge, PP would be an individual state task, and those resources would go to NASA.


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