In just another example of how BIG GUBMINT can't get anything right we have this update on Voyager I (yeah, remember that one?):
Since last summer, the long-running spacecraft has been exploring uncharted territory where the effects of interstellar space, or the space between stars, can be felt. Scientists don't know how thick this newfound region in the solar system is or how much farther Voyager 1 has to travel to break to the other side.You see, I'm 51 years old, and this space-thingy was launched by the US of A gubmint when I was 15 years old.
Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, were launched in 1977 to visit the giant gas planets, beaming back dazzling postcards of Jupiter, Saturn and their moons. Voyager 2 went on to tour Uranus and Neptune. After planet-hopping, they were sent on a trajectory toward interstellar space.No corporation had a motivation or wherewithal to launch a deepspace probe in 1977 anymore than they would in 2077. The fact is some aspirations are only attainable with full on national support: WWII comes to mind but peaceful pursuits don't suck either.
Voyager 1 is about 11 ½ billion miles from the sun. Voyager 2 is about 9½ billion miles from the sun. The nuclear-powered spacecraft have enough fuel to operate their instruments until around 2020.
Given the time it takes to process the data, mission scientist Leonard Burlaga said there will be a lag between when Voyager 1 finally sails into interstellar space and when the team can confirm the act. Then there's always the possibility of surprises beyond the solar system.It's the "complications" that make it worth the trip.
"Crossing may not be an instantaneous thing," Burlaga said. "It may be complicated."
To bad Big Gubmint can't get shit done... 36 years and 11.5 BILLION MILES LATER.
6:57 AM PT: I am struck by the wonderful comments relating the iconography of Voyager and the space program. Funny, but all these decades later we have a 36 year old point guard leading the way into the final frontier. It reminds me of a short story I wrote years ago about an astronaut who is recruited to go into deep space. After decades in suspended animation, he comes out only to find that humanity has long since reached his destination. He then becomes a living time capsule. Will we ever have the determination to catch up to V-Ger? Yes, and I hope very soon. Elon Musk will figure it out.