With the successful landing of Space Shuttle Discovery yesterday we are inching ever closer to the end of the Space Shuttle era. In fact, only 3 shuttle missions remain before the most intricate machine ever built is put away forever. And as machines go, this is nothing unusual. However, what IS unusual is the space shuttle’s replacement: nothing. Many a great aircraft have been retired, for example the F-14 and the SR-71. But each have been replaced by the next greatest advancements in aviation technology. Or, in the SR-71’s case, satellites. So naturally, the question arises: What will replace the space shuttle?
Until its recent cancellation, the answer has been the Ares program: A two part launch system to include the Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle and the Ares V Heavy Launch Vehicle (capable of delivering payloads to the International Space Station and beyond).
While I never claimed to be a huge supporter of the engineering design of the Ares program*, I was a huge supporter of its mission: to continue AMERICA’S presence in space by carrying AMERICANS to orbit safely and effectively.
Well folks, we better start saving up our money and sticking out our thumbs for those upcoming, now inevitable, Russian hitch-hikes to the International Space Station. The implications are huge. Arguably one of the most powerful nations on Earth with no personal means of placing humans in space, and worse, no goals or plans to reconcile the problem. We will have to sit in our living rooms dumbfounded when China lands a human on the moon 2020, or when Korea decides to launch their own human spaceflight system. America will be shocked and humiliated. And unfortunately, the future of America’s engineering and science workforce will have to seek inspiration from international sources.
Please continue to support America’s human endeavors in space.
And PS Mr. President: I hate it when people say stuff that is so overarching and demeaning to those that actually have those feelings…..
"The bottom line is, nobody is more committed to manned spaceflight, to human exploration of space than I am." –Barack Obama
You’re wrong, there are thousands of people more committed to manned spaceflight than you: and thanks to you, they are all in danger of losing their jobs. Great Job Mr. P.
*Personally, I felt the program lacked logical advancements in engineering by paying the “Good ‘Ol Boys” to provide outdated, legacy components.