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View Diary: Remembering Fallen Heroes: A Tough Week for NASA (42 comments)

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  •  Pre and Post Apollo 1 (2+ / 0-)
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    oak park progressive, BusyinCA

    I was 14 when we lost Apollo 1. In my view, it's the day the space program died.

    Before that date, people were space nuts. Everything having to do with space was the most awesome thing. Ever.

    By that time, I had models of every space-craft hand painted and opened a "space museum" in my parent's sunroom and charged the other kids admission to see them.

    One of my first books ever bought was the Skalnate Pleso star atlases.

    But after the tragedy, the thrill was gone. Not for me, but I despaired as public enthusiasm for the program evaporated. Sure, in two years we went to the moon, and several times afterwards. There was lots of chest-beating and prideful smiles. But there was no future, no follow-up, there was no trajectory.

    The shuttle program was a poor substitute for what we could have done, if we had the will, the heart, and the mind.

    What killed it? I don't know, I was only 14 at the time, and although I'd take out my Dr. Nim and pretend to answer people's questions in 1967 there wasn't the same kind of access to information we have today.

    The decision at the time was to do "something practical", was it practical to go to the moon? No, but we went anyhow, and by going wrote ourselves in the history books that no matter how far you go into the future will still be relevant. And set us apart from every other nation on earth. We could go there. Golf there. And come home.

    Sure, we won the "space race" but how much longer will it be before someone else (China?) walks on the moon. And what then?

    And sure, investing in the kind of technology necessary to keep a space program alive costs, but it's cost is peanuts compared to other things we spend on, and offers an incalculable return on investment.

    Like Robert A. Heinlein predicted, space will probably become the domain of private industry. We have already taken steps in that direction.

    But make no mistake. Just as air superiority was imperative for WWII, space superiority will be necessary for our next wars. We are fortunate that our recent list of enemies have been with people little more advanced than camel herders pounding sand.

    That won't remain so for long. We must be ready when that happens.

    What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

    by equern on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 01:07:56 AM PST

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