Will we ever see Space again?
The best day of my life was February 8, 2010. It was 4am. I had been up for too long. I stood outside Kennedy Space Center wrapped in a blanket, shivering in the surprisingly brisk Florida air that year. Didn’t matter. What I was about to see would make it all worth it. 4:15am the countdown started. At 4:16am I saw the most incredible ball of fire ignite the early morning sky with brilliant light, and the rumble of liftoff of Space Shuttle Endeavor STS 130 was awe-inspiring. I cried.
Today at 11:26am I walked into the break room at work, completely aware that I would be tardy for the 11:30 meeting I was leading, to watch the final flight of the US space shuttle. I remember as I watched liftoff, and with solid rocket booster separation I can recall thinking “wow, three minutes to space”. Amazing. And over
Not only is manned space flight over – so is advanced telescopic development and exploration. What you may not have heard today is the cancellation of the James Webb Space Telescope thanks to the US House Appropriations Bill. That’s right folks, cancelled. Not put on hold. Cancelled. What’s even worse, all the parts for the telescope are complete and being assembled. Phil Plait, in his effort to be fair, did state the project was behind schedule, and sucked up a little too much budget, and was poorly managed… but STILL!
The James Webb was designed so we could see and explore some of the coolest and most important tasks in the field of Astronomy… the collection of warm gasses around stars. What does that do, you ask? Well that is how planets are formed! Also, JWST would have been the largest optical device in space – designed to see so far back in time – 13 billion years to be exact. It’s ability to view red-shifted light (I just learned this term. woot!) from galaxy formations from the adolescence of our universe.
How much did cutting this beautiful project save our country? The cost of air-condition for our troops in Iraq for a WEEK. We spend twenty billion dollars in air conditioning for Iraqi troops a year. So, that’s $384, 615, 385 per week. Holy shit! That says something right there. We are spending far too much money on fucking air conditioning. The cost of this unnecessary war is outrageous. I digress…
With the cancellation of manned space flight, powerful telescopes, and the continuation of war – the work we’ve done for over thirty years to advance MANKIND (not just American citizens) has now been put on the back burner (I really am trying hard to bite my tongue here and not go off on a political rant on how much I hate our government).
With optimistic hopes of commercial space flight and exploration – I try to keep a positive outlook to the future. But it’s hard when the only way we can get to space has been shut down, and a super cool, high-tech ability for us to understand more about the birth of our universe has been crushed like yesterday’s garbage. All this without a suitable replacement, or even a good blueprint.
So with tears in my eyes, I am glued to the tele tonight, watching the Science channel and its special programming on the shuttle program.Will optimism prevail? I certainly hope so. Because without curiosity – we lose what is essential to being human: advancement.
Filed under: astronomy, cosmos, Foreign Policy, JWST, Science Education, Space shuttle, Technology | 4 Comments
Tags: end of shuttle program, James Webb Space Telescope, NASA, space program, space shuttle