The End Of The Space Age

Hey Prepper Nation,

Well, this week has been the end of an era for the United States, and probably the world.  With the launch of the shuttle Atlantis on its last flight ever, the era of serious manned space exploration has come to a close.   This has been met by cheers and jeers by those who were awake enough to notice it. 

On the one hand, our manned space program has been enormously expensive, and now hopefully some of the funds that went to further NASA’s ambitious or lately, not-so-ambitious goals might go to solving our other problems.  I wouldn’t bet on it, but we know it’s not going to go up in smoke (or space).  Each shuttle launch cost upwards of half a billion dollars to finance, and there’s certainly more down-to-earth uses for all those space bucks.  If all the money we ever spent on landing on the moon and shuttle flights was instead spent on earthly projects, our situation might be different than it is now.

But what about our imagination?  What’s the cost to us of realizing that our frontiers are no longer the stars, but restricted to a planet that is going to get more and more crowded, with less and less resources?  We can’t even count on our climate remaining stable, and is there going to be LESS pollution when we have a billion more people on the earth in a few years?  What happens when the stars again become, from a practical standpoint, just points of light again, instead of entire solar systems with planets? They could have been a new home for our species one day.  That day is no longer on our horizon.

Do you know what rockets burn for fuel?  They burn money, lots and lots of money.  Money that is taken from people who have mortgages, people whose kids need braces, people who need medicine for their diabetes.  President Obama, in 2009, put together a commission to determine the feasibility to put a man on the moon by 2020.  The findings, at reasonable levels of funding, were not favorable.  Not favorable for us to do something by 2020 that we had done successfully in 1969.

Why?  Because we’re broke.  We  just don’t have the money to put into flights of fancy because we have to use all the money we have just to keep our heads about water.  President Obama is hoping that private enterprise will take over; why not, private enterprise is the American way, isn’t it?  Well, that might work when you’re hoping someone will build a better mousetrap, but do you think that Virgin Atlantic ferrying rich tourists to low space, not even in orbit, is going to further our exploration efforts?

 Say bye-bye to Sci-Fi.  If you’re a writer, you know there are different categories called genres.  The one that includes stories about space travel is called Science fiction and fantasy.  Now it’s not just fiction, but it really is fantasy.

Maybe we can still explore space with robots. Sure, but there’s only so much you can do without being there yourself, and we’ve already done a lot of it.  We’ve got plenty of pictures but, unless one of them has a little green man in it, there’s not going to be an uproar to put serious money back into NASA.

When did space exploration lose its privileged place in our imagination, when did our athletes stop wanting to be astronauts?  When did our best and brightest stop wanting to build rockets?  That’s simple; when we were duped into thinking we could explore space on our Playstation.  Ever since our young people started getting their adventure fix via computer, we’ve turned inward.  And as long as we’re staring at our computers, and nowhere else, we’ll never again go outward (that is, to outer space).

One indication of the decline of a civilization is when it can no longer match or take advantage of its previous technological achievements.  Ancient Rome comes to mind.  Think about their aqueducts, indoor plumbing, steam baths, etc.  500 years later, no one in Europe could reproduce them.  Now we can’t reproduce a landing on the moon, even 50 years later.  Do you need any more proof of what direction the line on the graph is heading?  I’d say down, how about you?
Dr. Bones

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