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Saturday, 08 February 2003

The Cathedral and the Shuttle

Rich Baker writes of a vision for space:

Since the winding down of Apollo, the space programme has not been building treasure ships but cathedrals. The Soviet Union bowed out of the space race and NASA turned its attention to Mars. Or rather it would've done so if its budget had allowed. Instead began developing the Space Transportation System, the Shuttle, with which it intended to make access to space cheap enough to build a space station from which to launch interplanetary ships to Mars. The intention was not science, not profit, but sheer adventure, the romance of space travel, blue jewel of Earth dusted with swirls of cloud, the magic of footprints in red dust. And it has been beautiful, and awesome, and magical.Now, though, we've lost a second orbiter. We've find ourselves with foundations and scaffolding, but no cathedral. The scaffolding is starting to crumble, the dreams are being scaled down. No science of any significance has been done, nowhere has been explored, and there's no prospect of getting anywhere any time soon. The problem is that NASA's vision incorporates romance, but not profit; and romance can only conjure up so much money. [more]

1 comments and trackbacks

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