Lack of inspiration, lack of foresight

Posted: February 10, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

I’m old, there I said it. I have lived for four decades, have seen great advancements in the human condition and vast political changes and lived through some of the most exciting events of human history. However, sat here now I am wondering if humanity has any direction to its future.

What prompts this bleak view? Let me explain.

A few days ago, I was sat with my son discussing the Apollo missions. I was showing him clips on YouTube of Saturn V launches, golf on the moon, lunar rovers and while I was watching along side him I started to feel sad.

I was born three months before Neil Armstrong uttered the immortal words “One small step for man” and while I was too young to remember it first time round, I do remember the latter missions, the docking with souyz and the trails and tribulations of Sky Lab. Apollo was mine! I was fascinated by space flight then and remain so to this day. Shuttle was a fantastic piece of engineering and served well in its role but it wasn’t a moon shot. Building the ISS is a wonderful achievement but its just Skylab with bits docked to it.

Where is the inspiration coming from for my son’s generation? Robotic exploration is a necessary and positive first step but its not going to capture the imagination like manned spaceflight will. Yes, putting humans in space is dangerous but in seven years it will be half a century since Armstrong stepped off that ladder. Half a century! It took less time to go from the Wright brothers to Apollo.

Even robotic exploration is set to suffer. A nation that thinks nothing of spending billions on machines of destruction is reducing what it spends of machines of exploration. It is damaging not only its own projects but those of other nations. It can no longer even get its own astronauts into space and now it is threatening the possibility of the European Space Agency’s Exomars mission ever getting off the ground.

One bright piece of news in all this is the press release from Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, saying that they intend a manned mission to the Moon by 2020. However, with their recent history.. of launch problems and mission failures not to mention political instability I will believe it when I see it.

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