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Time To Form Starfleet? June 3, 2007

by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: Editorial,Science/Technology,Trek Franchise , trackback

In the world of Star Trek we know that eventually the Earth is united both with a single government and a single space agency. This agency called ‘The United Earth Space Probe Agency‘ and ‘Starfleet‘ even predates the formation of the United Federation of Planets. To date in the real world there have been many forays into international cooperation between agencies, but they are still fully independent. Now comes news that some of that may change. This week thirteen space agencies (including those of the USA, Russia, Europe, China and Japan) have agreed to co-ordinate future exploration – including the Moon and Mars. They have agreed to a (sadly non binding) document called "The Global Exploration Strategy: The Framework for Co-ordination." It is said to help with the exchange for information and most importantly "identify gaps, duplication and potential areas for collaboration."

The UK’s minister of science herald’s the agreement as "a new era of international collaboration." A statement from NASA calls the document "an important step in an evolving process towards a comprehensive global approach to space exploration." There have been some recent successes in international cooperation, such as the Cassini-Huygens mission, but it is not all sweetness and light. For example, just last month the Russian space agency accused NASA of refusing to allow cooperation on the planned Moon base, something NASA now denies. However there has been a marked move within NASA to go its own way lately. The former director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center George Abbey has voiced concerns that NASA is actually tightening restrictions on the exchange of information. He tells NewScientist "if we’re going to the moon or Mars, trying to go ourselves is not realistic…I think the cost as well as other factors make it such that you need to work with other countries."

A united crew

Any Trek fan knows that eventually humans will work together in the exploration of space. To have various groups of humans duplicate effort and cost is clearly illogical, and lets face it…there has been an astouding lack of progress. The last episode of Star Trek aired just one month before Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. Who would have believed that almost 40 years later there would be no manned presence on the Moon and Mars would still be a long lost dream. NASA has recently outlined a ‘new vision’ for sending men back to the Moon and on to Mars. This is a laudable goal, but for now it appears that the goal is cutting into important science missions. For example the mission to explore Jupiter’s moons (JIMO) and a space telescope to search for Earth like planets in other solar systems  (TPF) have both been delayed/canceled to make room for new manned missions. These actions have actually got the Planetary Society so concerned they have issued the SOS: Save Our Sciences initiative. The obvious solution to all of this is a new level of cooperation where all agencies and countries of the world can work together and share both the burdens and the benefits of the exploration of space. Let us all band together and begin to discover all the strange new worlds that await us.

the canceled nuclear powered Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter

Trekkies are famous for protests and letter writing campaigns to save fictional TV series. How about turning those energies into getting involved in real public policy. Let your government know that you support the human exploration of space and unmanned space science. Hopefully through the cooperation with international partners one does not have to come at the cost of the other.  

More Info:

Global Framework Document (pdf)

NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration

ESA’s Future

Planetary Society 

Mars Society



1. Herbert Eyes Wide Open - June 3, 2007

The first steps to any great endeavor are often the most difficult… At least these are first steps… I support them and I wish them clear sailing.

2. Nelson - June 3, 2007

Sadly, when the Space Program was really pushing hard and focused on a goal, to reach the Moon, it was only to beat the Russians. I didn’t know that growing up and watching the Moon landing as a kid was such a milestone in the space program. Since then, there has not been such a focused effort. Hopefully this alliance can help move the program foreward again.

3. Josh T. ( The time for Kirkishness is upon you) Kirk Esquire' - June 3, 2007

I can see the Republicans now :

Pull us OUT of the International space exploration committee, we won’t be dictated to by other countries!


4. Harry Ballz - June 3, 2007

As much as I love Star Trek and the notion of space exploration, it would seem, at least in the short term, that the various governments of Earth need to first EXPLORE how to achieve effective long-lasting world peace and feeding the hungry! Once we fix THIS planet we can then, and only then, explore strange new worlds!

5. Cap'n Bill - June 3, 2007

Josh…Try not to get any froth from Your mouth on Your keyboard.

6. James Heaney - June 3, 2007

Okay, cut the political snipes early and this won’t turn into another brawl that Anthony is forced to cut in and stop. That’s always embarrassing.

As for the topic: I really respect the idea of international cooperation. But it bears remembering that the world of Star Trek was united under global *democracy*… and I think that’s a prerequisite to true cooperation between nations. Which is why the fact that Russia and China are signatories to this compact make me uneasy, and why I’m pleased to hear that it’s not binding.

Still… a Starfleet would be pretty sweet, wouldn’t it? Maybe we could take this a step further and more greatly centralize the agencies of Europe, the U.S., and Japan… and those other spacefaring nations, Australia, India, and Israel. All of which are ruled by governments of the people and by the people.

7. neal - June 3, 2007

Let’s pause and enjoy this tiny bit of optimism. It’s great news. A good chunk of Star Trek’s optimism was a direct response to the cold war, which drove the competition to reach space in the 1960s. Star Trek suggested a better way, and in less than a decade, Americans and Soviets were shaking hands in space in the first cooperative mission (1975). And even with this, no one much thought that the cold war could possibly end any time soon … remember that 2010 film (from 1984, was it?), which portrayed a bitter cold war in space at a point in time 3 yrs from now? That film sure looks weird, with the cold war being now a distant memory. Things on earth are not exactly perfect, but there is room for celebration.

8. Ron Jon - June 3, 2007

The total investment in NASA is only a miniscule fraction of the US government budget. We spend far more money feeding our own poor and helping those in other countries. Even if we were to totally eliminate the space program, it would only be a small addition toward feeding the hungry, but it would be a devastating blow to this country’s future and to the future of the rest of the world.

To quote John Kennedy: “We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be found and new rights to be won. And they must be won and used for the progress of all people.”

And George W. Bush: “Human beings are headed into the cosmos…. The cause of exploration and discovery is not an option we choose, it is a desire written in the human heart.”

9. James - June 3, 2007

Josh blow it out of your pants. Although I can see how the Dems would get us all killed with their over-friendly stance on everything. Be nice to the terrorists and maybe they’ll be nice back unrealistic horsecrap. Trust China and Russia what are they nuts both countries really hate the USA and are constantly trying to piss in our proverbial pool most of the time. China steals our technology and car designs then has the nerve to think they improved themselves without theft. Not to mention they are always whipping out the weapons in some grand show of might. This “deal” will fall through. I love Star Trek but some of it’s universal friendship stuff is unrealistic and will never work. The UN is a joke and corrupt and very anti-America. We’ll have our ships and they’ll have theirs.

10. Anthony Pascale - June 3, 2007

Josh, this is your last warning for trolling. Next time and you are gone. And James just because he tried to derail this doesn not mean you need to follow him.

no more stupid political attacks. yes space policy is a political issue, but it can be discussed without ludicrous political attacks.

11. Josh T. ( The time for Kirkishness is upon you) Kirk Esquire' - June 3, 2007

Hey it’s a joke, not “derailing”, and it’s pretty clear people can’t take a God damn joke around heresince the proverbial lady doth protest a bit too much, as well as WHO is Republican, so I say Ban away I want no part of such a bullshit one-sided website that tries to silence someone as “trolling” when they try to interject something other than ass-kissing and circle-jerking to the website.

12. TechTrekker - June 3, 2007


I hope someday you will be enlightened by the realism of history, the idealism of those who survived it, and the hope in the eyes of the children for the future.


13. John - June 3, 2007

In Canada, the elected officials to write to are:

Brian Masse, MP (Windsor West) NDP Science Critic: masse.b@parl.gc.ca

Hon. Lawrence Cannon, MP (Pontiac) Conservative Minister of Industry: cannon.l@parl.gc.ca

Maurizio Bevilacqua, MP (Vaughn) Liberal Science Critic: bevilacqua.M@parl.gc.ca

Paule Brunelle, MP (Trois-Rivières) Bloc Quebecois Industry Critic: brunep1@parl.gc.ca

14. CmdrR - June 3, 2007

We don’t we have a permanent Mars colony, a base on the Moon, or serious effort on warp drive?
Just read some of the above entries.
By 2263, I notice NOBODY says “Republican” or “Democrat.” That’s because those pea-brained throwbacks are all extinct.

15. Xai - June 3, 2007

Just cut it out…

Regarding the actual message… I think we have to start somewhere. Maybe my kids or theirs will see a united crew with mission goals that have exploration as their sole aim and all the politics, nationally and internationally, get left behind.

16. mikeg - June 3, 2007

“Any Trek fan knows that eventually humans will work together ….”
I wonder if such a presumption isn’t a bit… presumptuous. I don’t see humans of any kind working together in the near, or distant future. I think human beings are a rather superficial, self-obsessed, super-indulgent species which does very little to preserve and protect its own. Geez, I hate to watch the news…….. No wonder sex feels so good, otherwise humanity wouldn’t do anything to propagate the spieces.

17. Dr. Image - June 3, 2007

Ron #8
Thanks for putting things in perspective.
I work in a political arena, and take it from me, when you are high enough up the ladder and dealing with the future of the world and mankind, there are things more transcendent than party politics.

18. OneBuckFilms - June 3, 2007

Unfortunately, our resources are finite.

International co-operation is necessary, now more than ever, to counter more urgent issues that face all of us.

Islamic Fundamentalists have been fighting the verry freedom and harmony needed for such an endeavor.

At this point, humanity is not ready for the diversity that exists out there.

We need to use our resources to counter this, or we’d be reaching up for the stars with our legs cut off.

Keep the space programs and co-operation alive, but lets not divert an unreasonable level of resources here.

Peace on this world has a price, and the immediate future of international space exploration may be part of it.

19. Tim - June 3, 2007

Correct me if i am wrong, but is this not technicaly above politics? Of course you will always have treaties between government etc but at the end of the day, space is not meant to be militarised, politicised for or by any one nation. The same as Earths Moon can not be claimed by any one nation.

As for a “Star Fleet”, I hope so, our species is capable of such great kindness, it would be ashame to think that some time in the future we could no work together. i for one believe that humanity will evolve out of this period of conflict and will move forward into the future, a United Planet.

20. Mark 2000 - June 3, 2007

I agree with Josh it a joke and an accurate one.

I love all this space stuff, but relativity is a big obstacle and I think most of the time (the sixties and today) its more of a political diversion for the public from ridiculous wars. So no, its not above politics. Everything is politics.

I agree lets fix the earth before we take out petty resource squabbling into space. We’ll probably wind up like Total Recall.

And #18, I’d say all fundamentalist are fighting against freedom. Muslim and Christian alike. Its silly and racist to single out one over another.

21. Tim - June 3, 2007

20. Mark 2000 – June 3, 2007 – and it silly to attack republicans

22. Scott - June 3, 2007

Cooperation between nations always seems to be driven by mutual protection (and fear of enemies), or access to each others markets. Things like the Olympics always seem like war by other means, and the U.N. is a beautiful dream, fatally flawed. I wonder if it won’t take something as extreme as contact, probably hostile, from extraterrestrials before humans decide to form a functioning world government. Sadly, depending on how the aliens decide to interract with us, I suspect many nations would try to ally themselves with the aliens in order to remain superior to other Earth nations. How short-sighted, if true.

In the short-term, cooperation in limited space exploration will surely happen, and are happening. Things will get very interesting, however, once self-sustaining colonies of humans take root on Mars or elsewhere, if that’s even possible or desirable. Remember Sam Cogley’s mentioning the fundamental declarations of the Martian colonies in “Court Martial?” Any group of people, sufficiently separated, is going to want to govern itself. We’ve a long way to go before we see that happen though.

Scott B. out.

23. Buckaroohawk - June 3, 2007

This is good news, at least at the outset, but I’ll reserve jumping with glee until something actually comes from such collaborations. My personal belief is that the future of space travel rests with bold individual entrepreneurs, not with governments. Too much posturing and sniping there.

Speaking of governments: Why is it that Anthony has stated many MANY times that this is not a forum for political debate, discussion, or diatribes, yet certain posters continue to ignore that edict. Anthony isn’t censoring anyone; he asks us as his guests to refrain from such topics because within a forum like this they are always unproductive and they degenerate into pettiness, back-biting and name-calling.

Anthony doesn’t ask much from us, but there are always a few who can’t resist the urge to strike a match near a powderkeg and consciously disregard the wishes of our gracious host. To me, that’s being a poor guest, and if this were my party, it would get you unceremoniously kicked out the door.

If Josh T. and others can’t control their political outbursts, then good riddance to them. I, for one, won’t miss them one little bit.

24. Josh T. ( The Undiscovered Totalitarian state ) Kirk Esquire' - June 3, 2007

Tyranny starts with censorship. Whether you agree with an idea or not, someone being silenced from expressing their opinion is against the very core nature of everything this nation and STAR TREK represents.

If some of you want to live in a police state where the only thing acceptable is what you agree with, then wake up because small-minded intolerance of others ideas is the first damn thing that will go in your new Utopia.

How can one discuss Star Trek WITHOUT discussing politics as many of the ideas and precepts that are at the very heart of the show are FOUNDED on someones notion of politics whether some of you like it or not.

Look at this thread as an example of what’s to come –

Political oriented satire comment followed by BAN HIM, SILENCE HIM, WE DISAGREE WITH HIM THEREFORE WE MUST BE RIGHT.

Does that sound like a future any of you TRULY want to live in??

Isn’t this thread sort of the embodiment of what’s WRONG with society and people today, and indicative of WHY we need to get our own shit together before we venture out and pollute someone elses shit with our shit?
Count my ass out.

25. Duane Boda - June 3, 2007

Hmm…..lets try to keep all politics out of here….it would make this place so much nicer.
This is merely a website devoted to Star Trek both as it was in the past – present and will
be in all future developments that we as fans appreciate and contribute our time to.
If you feel a need to vent your political views then their our countless better sites that can and will gladly serve your purpose in a much more constructive way that in the end will make you much happier as a individual and as a member to their site….go there.
Do a google search or whatever….and type up Political Rants and see what pops up.
Have a good day and week!

26. Josh T. ( The Undiscovered Totalitarian state ) Kirk Esquire' - June 3, 2007

Captain Kirk fought against this sort of shit on a DAILY basis.

Just remember that.

27. RandyYeoman - June 3, 2007

Anthony….thanks for the links and the news. And to those who dont think natinos can work together, shouldnt we at least try? Shouldnt space be the place where humans make the attempt to work together….especially with the costs involved. That being said I also think that eventually space will have to be taken over by private enterprise, but they wont go until the space agencies spend the money finding out what is there. For example is there Helium 3 in sufficient quanities on the moon and can you create a self sustaining base there by extracting water and oxygen from the rocks.

Oh ya…..and Josh….I am sorry but you are simply a typical cyberbully. Your cries of ‘censorship’ are just off base. You came into a thread about space and used it to make a cheap and unneeded political attack. I am a super liberal but I see no need to randomly attack republicans here. I do that elsewhere….why do that here. You have been asked not to and now claim you are being persecuted….sorry but that is not selling. This is not a political site. Anthony was being accused of being anti republican in the other thread now you are accusing him of silencing anti republican stuff …when it is clear that he and this site is just anti partisan attacks.

so just be a man and appologize and move on. it is his site and his rules. No one is stopping you from making your political atttacks on your site or standing on the street corner yelling at people if you like

28. OneBuckFilms - June 3, 2007

#20 – I agree. However, it is Islamic Facism, more than any other extremism, that is the immediate danger.

I resent being called Racist for pointing out an obvious issue.

To clarify: Islam as a whole is not the enemy, though it is complicit through inaction.

Much evil has come from good people doing nothing.

Space exploration is a great end goal, but we need to resolve the issues here on Earth before we carry them with us to other worlds.

Is it logical to deny the obvious truth that our freedom to explore the stars and ourselves is the target? Does anyone remember the Nazis?

BTW, this is not politics, but an honest look at the state of the world that must change before Gene’s dream can live.

29. THEETrekMaster - June 3, 2007

Starfleet??? What a joke!

Has anyone here read the news lately?

Mankind has NO BUSINESS polluting space with our BS!

Mankind will be lucky to survive another 20 years the way things are going….and I am being VERY liberal with that timeline.


30. Tim - June 3, 2007

27. RandyYeoman – June 3, 2007 – well said. In reality we are not even realy discussing Star Trek, we are discussing the possibility of a Trek style Star Fleet and current day space exploration.

By attacking republicans/democrats or whoever you demonstrate a failing to tackle the subject head on, on only perpetuate the divide that exist in our world. Society is Governed by Laws (Rules). This is Anthony’s site and therfore governed by his rules, he is not Supressing anyone, simply trying to direct this topic on a productive course, if I were to host a debate of this topic in my home I would not tolerate either side of the political spectrum. I admit I have stooped to name calleing etc. and have been warned by Anthony and I try to remember that and respect that this is here simply out of his effort.

On topic: Humanity is both perfect and flawed, kind and savage, farsighted and shortsighted, the trial of humanity will one day come, it will be hard and exacting but in the end the human spirit and it’s thirst for knowledge will out weigh the savagery and we will have a peace unlike any other, we as one people will grow a utopia and take all we have learnt from our trials to the stars, and help those out there avoid the mistakes of our flawed yet perfect nature. We as a species are a contradiction in terms, but in the end we will take flight. A current day starfleet? Yes.

31. THEETrekMaster - June 3, 2007

I predict the ICBMs will fly before a “Starfleet”.


Sorry…my Pollyanna days are over. I read WAY too much news.


32. Josh T. ( The Undiscovered Totalitarian state ) Kirk Esquire' - June 3, 2007

Dancing and skirting around the subject of politics for fear of offending certain people when the reality is politics plays a VERY relevant role in the world of Star Trek , is essentially missing half the point of the show.

If people are so thin-skinned and uncertain of their own political views that they can’t incorporate them into discussions , or discuss them rationally , and accept the FAULTS and fallacies of their political views without falling to peices, then that speaks volumes about the state of affairs and divisions in this country, and society in general.

As far as being a “cyber-bully” , only drama queens would confuse political satire with bullying.

If you want a prime example of cyber-bullying, look at the posts made after my number 3 post. Oh and, I don’t give a God damn what anyone says or thinks, it was a joke, and look how people react. if I wanted to engage in a political diatribe, I unequivocally assure you, I am MORE than capable.

33. IrishTrekkie - June 3, 2007

well i think one of the problems being nasa unwilling to share , technology

cause when you look at it , the other space agency have done a fair few things together, russia played a big part in china getting to space, plus they are now working with the european space agency on their next spacecraft the (CSTS) .

34. Tim - June 3, 2007

33. IrishTrekkie – June 3, 2007 – excellent point! Josh you are a Cyber bully, you put across a point and you do it in an offensive manner, you be – little any one who a disagrees with you, I support Anthony in his imposing rules to ensure a constructive dialouge and if he kicks you out..well I wont shed any tears. by the way, captain never fought oppression and tyrany, he is a fictional character.

35. mrregular - June 3, 2007

Anthony, thank you for this article. It’s a tiny bit of optimism that makes me feel much better!
I’m taking the high road. No need on my part to reply to any of the political posts here. Tommorrow I will visit the sites you linked to for more information. Whatever contribution I can make to sustain space exploration would fill my heart with gratitude.

36. Tim - June 3, 2007

Anthony – Thanks for the Planetary Society link, much appreciated.

37. Anthony Pascale - June 3, 2007

i can see that this thread has become derailed….which is the thing I try and avoid. please avoid commenting on other posters, except when it comes to the subject at hand.

and this place is not a free speech zone…it is a star trek website so it is not ‘anything goes’….sorry. call that censorship if you like, but I prefer a place to chat about trek and not get bogged down in silly pointless political debates and flaming of eachother and various groups. For those who find this restrictive, there are many many other websites in the universe and I am not keeping you here.

Now back to the subject…Irish Trekkie.
well Russia is desperate for cash and they will sell tech to anybody. So right now they are building the CSTS with the ESA at the same time as the USA is building the Orion. I guess it would just bee too much for all the agencies to agree to a single new launch vehicle for the future Moon and Mars missions, but maybe they will at least coordinate on the bases and maybe some of the science missions. Maybe since NASA has backed off the TPF they can join with ESA on Darwin. I find the search for Earth-like planets to be the coolest thing out there. I think when there is definitive proof of a real earth ii out there it will have a profound impact….and we need to know where to send those instersellar probes

38. Tim - June 3, 2007

37. Anthony Pascale – June 3, 2007 – Earth II, when it is said it does sound inspiring. A single aproach would probably speed up technological advancement and efficiecy of the technology, this is one area I support open and free sharing of technology, this may better all humanity and there is nothing greater than that.

39. Ron Jon - June 4, 2007

Freedom of speech implies responsibility for one’s speech. If one behaves childishly, you should expect to be treated accordingly. Anthony has a total right to control the content of this board. He set it up and he’s responsible for it. This is known as “free speech.” Anyone who disagrees with Anthony is entitled to exercise his or her own free speech by setting up his or own board.

The exploration of space is the essential next step in human history. We will derive great economic, cultural, and scientific benefits from space. We already use space-based technology in nearly every aspect of modern life from communications, weather forcasting, navigation, the internet, and even satellite TV. The nations of Earth are already joining in various – admittedly imperfect – ways to explore space and to reap its benefits. Witness the International Space Station, the European Space Agency, and numerous profit-making corporations.

In the very long term, space exploration can literally save the human species. Not only does space-based technology help us understand our environment and offer the possibility of averting catastrophic climate changes, but space technology might someday help us detect – and divert – Earth-crossing asteroids that could wipe out humanity along with the majority of life on this planet.

Who among us doesn’t wonder what’s over the next hill? Who hasn’t studied the astonishing photos of the Red Planet taken by the Mars rovers, delighted in video of spacewalking astronauts, or gazed in wonder at the glories of the cosmos as revealed by the Hubble Space Telescope?

It is that sense of wonder, that spirit of adventure, that Gene Roddenberry captured when he created Star Trek.

40. Admiraldeem - June 4, 2007

Sorry Anthony, but IMO the human race is not ready for a Starfleet. Without bashing anyone by name, there are posters to this site and on this very thread who, again IMO, would make incredibly poor representatives of our planet to the stars. If there is life out there, and I think it likely, they deserve better than some of what we have seen here. Until we as a race learn to live together in peace, we should not inflict our bile on other worlds. That is my interpretation of the Prime Directive at this stage of the game.

41. Crusade2267 - June 4, 2007

I’m actually getting fed up with government-sponsored space exploration. It seems that the only time anyone in the government is really motivated to do anything in space is when it gives them a military or political advantage. Get to the moon before the Russians do. Part of the initial plans for the Space Shuttle called for it to be a small troop transport. Star Wars (not the movie). The plain and simple fact is that governments are not motivated to explore space for the simple curiosity of finding out whats out there.

Stuff like the X-prize and Virgin Galactic make me much more hopeful for space-exploration’s future. Soon, anyone will be able to go to space. A ticket on Virgin Galactic’s ships will cost $200,000… which is significantly cheaper than $40 Million that you’d have to pay the russians for a ride on one of their rockets. Once space travel becomes more afordable to the private citizens, it will mean that scientists and universities will be able to mount space exploration missions without a government, without all the politics and bipartisan bickering. And once people start traveling to space, we’ll have to mount exploratory expiditions… we have to have some idea of whats out there before we risk lives by sending people into the heart of it.

42. James Heaney - June 4, 2007

#41: Hooray for private space exploration!

43. THEETrekMaster - June 4, 2007

Private is the only way to go.

44. Thorny - June 4, 2007

A good, coordinated plan for space exploration is a good first step. What coordination we’ve had so far has been mostly through luck. (There is some overlap between Europe’s Mars Express and America’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, for example, but they compliment each other pretty well.) The U.S. has provided scientific instruments for European, Japanese and Indian spacecraft. Europe has placed instruments on American and Russia spacecraft, etc. But this has all been “afterthought” orchestration, not part of a master plan.

The idea has a chance of working at lower budget levels, but I suspect it will hit roadblocks when greater sums of money are thrown around…. at that point, politicians will take notice and demand a piece of the pie for their jurisdiction and vote against the funding if they don’t get it. That means if one country’s contribution to a program is derailed because it would have been built in the politically incorrect district, the whole program will be derailed, and we’ll be back to piecemeal space exploration.

It would also help if other nations increased their spending on civil space exploration. For the last ten years, the United States has spent more annually on civil space (not including military space) than all other nations of the world, combined. This despite Europe having at least as great an economy as America, Russia now swimming in cash thanks to huge increases in the price of oil, and China’s booming economy (despite the hoopla about Chinese manned space, their program is still operating on a shoestring budget compared even to Russia, nevermind America.)

45. Thorny - June 4, 2007

41. Crusade…

No, the Space Shuttle’s original plan never called for it to be a troop transport. It was to be a much smaller, reusable replacement for the Apollo spacecraft, serving mainly as a crew ferry with some modest resupply capability. NASA wanted to keep the Saturn V to do the heavy lifting, principally for its Space Station. As hope of further Saturn production diminished in 1969-70, the Shuttle began growing larger to take on the role of building the Space Station. As it grew larger and more expensive, it became harder for NASA to justify the Shuttle, so NASA had to enlist new customers, and Shuttle became a replacement for satellite launch vehicles like Atlas and Delta. Even that was not enough to justify its cost to Congress, so NASA went to the Pentagon, fairly late in the game, to get them to sign on. The Pentagon was not interested at first, but finally pressure from Congress got them to back the Shuttle program. Shuttle grew again to meet the Pentagon’s needs, but those needs were for spy satellite launches (the 65 ft long payload bay is almost exactly the right size needed for the Keyhole satellites) and high-cross-range landings, so that Shuttle would not overfly the Soviet Union after a launch from Vandenberg AFB (the big delta wing was a result.)

46. Lord Garth Formerly of Izar - June 4, 2007

I think we need to replace that overglorified spaceplane first with something more modern and safer for our astronauts. The first production vessel would of course be called the Enterprise. Then on to Izar and no ship’s councilers will be allowed in the new starfleet

47. THEETrekMaster - June 4, 2007

To get to Izar you would need an Ion powered ship.

Speaking of which…where’s those Spock’s Brain previews and pics?


48. FlyingTigress - June 4, 2007


I recall reading once that the tooling (and plans) for the Saturn V had to be, not just sent to the boneyard or archived, but destroyed, as a condition for funding for the Shuttle. Basically, burning the bridge.

49. mrregular - June 4, 2007

#41, #42:
Private space enterprises will most certainly help the process of space exploration. Obviously, some type of re-usable, affordable spacecraft that can go from ground to low-Earth orbit would be the centerpiece. Many over the years have suggested a spaceplane for this endeavor. That’s a good idea as long as it avoids some of the pitfals that the Space Shuttle program has demonstrated. Safety is #1 and if the new craft doesn’t have an option to successfully get the crew away ASAP from a malfunctioning vehicle then more good people will perish needlessly.

50. Xai - June 4, 2007

I congratulate you all for getting “back on track’ Thank you.

51. Thorny - June 4, 2007


Nope, the timeline doesn’t work. Saturn production termination actually began in the Budget Massacre of 1967 (fallout from the Apollo 1 fire, but the writing was on the wall earlier.) NASA held out for Saturn production restart as long as it could and didn’t really “burn the bridge” until around 1972-73, when it was clear that Apollo/Saturn was dead and it couldn’t afford the high cost of keeping the tooling ready-for-use. It wasn’t a question of “boneyard the tooling”, because the equipment would never have survived boneyarding, it was far too complex and sensitive. NASA kept the tooling alive as long as it could, but the cost (facilities, utilities, air conditioning, other projects needing the space) was high in a time of greatly diminished NASA budgets, most of which was needed to get Shuttle up and running.

The plans being lost is a myth. Most of it is still in various facilities of the National Archives. Contractors did throw away their paper versions of plans and blueprints, but they kept the easier-to-store microfilm versions for future use. Boeing and Rocketdyne both used these plans for the National Launch System/Advanced Launch System programs in the late 1980s. Rocketdyne also had easy access to both J-2 engine plans and actual surplus hardware, which is used for the X-33 program and now is putting back into production for Constellation.

52. Crusade2267 - June 4, 2007

45: Thanks for the clarification. I remembered reading somewhere that the Pentagon had singed on to the shuttle, so I assumed it must have been as a transport. Thank you for setting me straight.

Doesn’t change my point, though, that governments are looking to space for military and political advantage, while others, like scientists, corperations, and private citizens are looking to space for commercial applications and simple curiosity as to whats out there.

53. Lord Garth Formerly of Izar - June 4, 2007

Hey Anthony is today the anniversarry opening of Star Trek II???? There’s a great article at aintitcool by a by Original Trek supporter (and spinoff loather) Merrick

54. Ron Jon - June 4, 2007

Plans for the Saturn V were NOT destroyed. In fact, an updated version of the J2 rocket engine is being developed for use in the upper stages of both the Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles.

Government AND private. Individual nations AND international cooperation. It will take the efforts and commitments of many, working in many different ways, to meet the challenges of space exploration and development.

55. Tony - June 4, 2007

Very interesting thread.

Anyway, I was starting to think about how today’s society appears to based largely on pettiness and greed. I began to remember Gene Roddenberry making a comment about petty dictatorships and that which humankind hungers for. I also remembered that according to Star Trek 6, Zefram Conhran’s motivation for the Phoenix was dollar signs. He humbled a bit eventually, when he got to see the perpective of this lone blue planet in the vastness of space, didn’t he?

International cooperation for space exploration, even though the document is non-binding.. what more can one ask given the circumstances of the day?

I guess what I’m getting at is, I agree – it will probably take a private entity to get us where we need to be.

I don’t know, but I’m starting to babble. To stop myself I’ve found that quote I was thinking of:

“The much-maligned common man and common woman have an enormous hunger for brotherhood. They are ready for the 23rd century now. They are light-years ahead of their petty governments and visionless leaders.”

— Gene Roddenberry, 1976

56. Tony - June 4, 2007

(bracing self due the painfully obvious typo’s with Cochrane’s name) ;)

57. Tony - June 4, 2007

(and the movie reference, someone take my trekkie card away!!)

58. Xai - June 4, 2007

Humans are petty, selfish and more… but it’s a start. Let’s see where it goes and support it if it’s worth it. Anyone thinking this would heal all things needs to check their meds.

59. IrishTrekkie - June 5, 2007

hmm maybe in the end its all about Politics, if russia , european , america, japan , and who ever else , went and built a craft for a mission to mars , would someon demand that their astronaut/cosmonaut/taikonaut/spationaut , be the first on mars ?

do we all get to put our flag down ? ( actually i say we nick this star trek united earth flag , but the just me . http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Image:United_Earth_logo.png )

so would they all speak English on the trip to mars , or russian , or one of the many european langrauges etc. ( come to think of we better make a universal translater fast)

i mean stupid stuff like this might seems unimportant, its the kinda the stuff , that slow down counties working together . but to be fair we have come a long away already towards working together , its justing going to be slow going.

Oh the plus side , the x prize and spaceship one , are all very good things in my opinion as they make aerospace technology more available, will come up with need ideas , and bring the price of space travel down .

60. IrishTrekkie - June 5, 2007

oh tony i like the Roddenberry qoute , heres a qoute i love , that to me sums up the need for space travel.

“Earth is the cradle of man, but man does not live in the cradle forever.”

— Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

( yea so i say we bulit some ship , and try our luck at invading that Goldilocks Planet (Gliese 581 c) in any luck we wont screw that place up as bad, as earth …………………….no what am i saying i am sure we will.

61. Jay - June 6, 2007

Well… with recent democratic friction between the US, UK and Russia we may indeed be entering into a 2nd Cold War.

There is strong hope for this space program then…. hehe

62. Sean - June 12, 2007

Elected officials will never ok a large space program. Why? Because it costs a hell of a lot of money and doesn’t instantly make the voters happy. I doubt we’ll ever make it into space unless someone can convince the public that space exploration is important.

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