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Editorial: The Next Space Frontier March 9, 2008

by Andre Bormanis , Filed under: Editorial , trackback

Last Friday, at a campaign event in Wyoming, presidential hopeful Barack Obama said the following: "I grew up on Star Trek. I believe in the final frontier." Obama went on to say he has issues with the way the space program is currently being run, and might trim funding until NASA’s mission has been clarified.

Obama:

NASA has lost focus and is no longer associated with inspiration, I don’t think our kids are watching the space shuttle launches. It used to be a remarkable thing. It doesn’t even pass for news anymore.

A fair point. As remarkable as it may seem to us, space travel rarely makes headlines. But as Obama noted, it hasn’t always been this way. In the 1960’s, an entire generation of young scientists and engineers found inspiration in the prospect of making human footprints on the moon and planets.

So did Gene Roddenberry. In 1964, the space program was just getting into high gear. The United States could only send two men at a time into orbit, in capsules with less legroom than an airline coach seat. But in that same year, Gene imagined that a starship with a crew of four hundred would someday cruise the interstellar byways in search of strange new worlds and new civilizations. Earth would be at peace in this future era, united in the common goal of exploring the Final Frontier.

Star Trek was pretty heady stuff in the 1960’s. But those were heady times. Social, political, and technological changes were happening at a breakneck pace. Nowhere was our growing technological prowess more evident than in our space program. After the first tentative flight of an American astronaut into space in 1961, President John F. Kennedy committed the United States to landing a man on the moon before the end of the decade. The two-man Gemini capsules of 1964 quickly led to the three-man Apollo, which led to the moon. Interstellar travel is still a dream, but landing the first man on the moon in 1969 was an achievement of almost mythic proportions.

Space travel clearly doesn’t have the same magic today. The space shuttle system, despite two tragic accidents, has made the job of “astronaut” seem almost mundane. Few people can name even one astronaut working today. NASA is to some extent a victim of its own success.

But our venerable space agency is also hobbled by a lack of vision. Humans haven’t ventured beyond the relatively cozy confines of low Earth orbit since 1972. Robotic probes have been pushing back the boundaries of the Final Frontier in the intervening years, with spectacular results (and, it must be said, at much lower cost than the Apollo project). Humans have more or less stayed home.


Orion, the next craft for the final frontier (NASA artist rendition)

Each of the three presidential candidates has expressed support for continuing human space exploration. [see statements from: Obama, Clinton, McCain] Two questions remain: what vision will grow from that support, and how much funding will be allocated for it?

This is a critical time for NASA. When it completes construction of the International Space Station in 2010, the Space Shuttle will be retired. The current Administration and Congress have not provided adequate funding to develop its replacement, Orion – an Apollo-style capsule atop a two-stage rocket that will be able to ferry six astronauts to the Station, and eventually crews of four to the moon – in time to pick up the reins from Shuttle. Until Orion is operational, U.S. astronauts will have to hitch rides to the Station on Russian space vehicles, at not inconsiderable expense. This is hardly a desirable situation.

Orion will also give us something the Space Shuttle lacked: the ability to send astronauts beyond Earth orbit. For the first time since the end of the Apollo program, the United States is poised to send astronauts back into deep space. All of us who have dreamed of exploring The Final Frontier should do everything we can to encourage the next president to embrace this goal. It can be accomplished without significant increases in the NASA budget (which currently stands at about 0.6 % of the Federal budget). We don’t need an expensive, “crash” program like Apollo to once again set our sights on the moon and destinations beyond. We simply need a commitment. A president willing to say this country can once again embrace the future and reach for the stars.

This is not to suggest that space exploration should be our next president’s highest priority. Health care, education, the environment, rebuilding roads and bridges, and restoring our good name overseas are far more important and immediate goals, and require much more money and government resources. And rightly so. But by investing a fraction of a cent of our Federal tax dollar, we can also create the infrastructure that will give our children the opportunity to participate in one of the greatest adventures humankind has ever conceived. If we do, our kids will live to see an international crew of astronauts explore Mars, a strange new world that may even harbor life. And who knows what else is out there waiting for us? We won’t find out by staying home.

 

Andre Bormanis was the Star Trek science advisor for several years before becoming a full-time writer and eventually producer for Star Trek: Enterprise. He holds a B.S. in Physics and an M.A. in Science, Technology, and Public Policy, the latter earned under a NASA Space Grant fellowship. He is a long-time space advocate and member of The Planetary Society; he recently wrote about the Orion program for their publication The Planetary Report, available online at www.planetary.org

 

Trek’s new advisor weighs in
Carolyn Porco, the leader of the Imaging Science team on NASA’S Cassini mission and a science advisor for JJ Abrams new “Star Trek” feature film also has a few thoughts about the choices our next president will making with regard to space exploration..

The fact that the Shuttle has been a going-nowhere kind of project seems not to be lost on some of the presidential candidates, which is very heartening. I think that, once in the White House, the next President, whoever that may be, will have the opportunity to see and hear first hand how vitally important NASA and both its humanflight and robotic enterprises are to our country’s technological standing in the world and in inspiring all of us — young and old alike — to greater achievements. And I suspect that once the next President sees up close just how aggressively other countries are pursuing their own humanflight programs, Executive Office support for moving Americans out… towards the Moon and beyond … will materialize.

 


 

Comments

1. Chaya - March 9, 2008

Never thought Obama liked Star Trek

2. Anthony Pascale - March 9, 2008

Just a quick note to commenters

Andre’s editorial is about space and space policy. Although it mentions political figures, it is only in reference to space policy in the future.

Please keep partisan political stuff out of the comments here.

3. ety3 - March 9, 2008

We need to build up China as our space enemy and compete against them. (That’s what got the ball rolling in the ’50s.)

So, China, hurry up with your program.

4. KS Trekker - March 9, 2008

IT seems to me that working towards exploring space…and eventually *colonizing* other worlds (starting with our moon)…could help relieve some of the problems we are – and will be – facing with overcrowding and the depletion of our natural resources. Certainly that has to count for something.

On a side note – nice job by CBS-D on ‘By Any Other Name’.

5. VoR - March 9, 2008

Love that Obama is a fan. =)

6. Josh - March 9, 2008

I may not like Obama, but I’ll least give him a chance. It’s a good thing that all three candidates like exploration. One of them is going to be in office. I’m positive that our next president will do the right thing when it comes to exploration. I know she will.

7. SPB - March 9, 2008

#2 –

I don’t know HOW you could talk about the current and future space program and NOT talk politics at the same time. Where NASA goes tomorrow will depend a lot on who’s in the White House, and who’s sitting in the House and Senate.

Just an observation.

8. Orb of the Emissary - March 9, 2008

If we cancel the space program, how can humanity eventually become one of the founding races of the United Federation of Planets?? Come on people, let’s get going!

9. non-belligerency confirmed - March 9, 2008

the use of kennedy’s voice in the new teaser, and the teaser in general, seem to very much summon the spirit of the apollo age. i feel that we are cycling back to hope and exploration both culturally and politically in america right now. youth are voting in troves, protest is replacing apathy, and even summer fashions echo those halcyon days of the 60’s. j.j. abrams just the right kind of intelligent populist to make the connection. there has never been a better time to revisit TOS, and the above article proves it.

#6
please see anthony’s post (#2). this is not the place for it, no matter how clever or snide you imagine you’re being.

10. trekgeezer - March 9, 2008

How come every time NASA is mentioned, the politicians first impulse is to cut funding. The Space Program gets a minuscule percentage of the governments overall budget.

The way the funding is allotted is the problem. It’s very hard for NASA to plan long term projects like going back to the moon or going to Mars when they constantly operate with the budget ax hovering over their necks.

If you want to help space exploration join the National Space Society http://www.nss.org or The Planetary Society http://www.planetary.org

I’ve been a member of the NSS for 19 years. Nichelle Nichols, Bruce Boxleitner, Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Freeman Dyson , Ben Bova, Arthur C. Clarke, and Majel Barrett-Roddenberry all sit on the Board of Governors.

11. Aaron R. (Sisko would approve) - March 9, 2008

1st Sisko now Obama!

Obama 08
YES WE CAN!

12. KJTrek - March 9, 2008

I think our country, and government have really lost perspective of the big picture. In the 60’s America was unrivaled in virtually all areas. We had fewer big worries, and we had the time and resources to devote to something so many thought was frivolous. We look back and can see that maybe we need to rethink our goals. America now feels pressured to re-assert itself and fight globalization when maybe we should strive for the global community that our space program could foster. Star Trek embodied what space exploration could achieve for us, and without sacrificing funding for other things too much, we need to look to the stars again.

#9 – cool down. I think we can have just a little fun on these boards.

13. Anthony Pascale - March 9, 2008

number 6 is fine. I just dont want to see flame wars. This is not an excuse to let everyone know how much you hate any candidates, parties, groups, or their supporters…this is about space. You have an issue with someone’s space policy…have at it.

14. A Familiar Voice - March 9, 2008

Without a doubt we are currently mired in circles around the Earth, and it is a shame that it has taken so long for our leaders to realize it. Once the heavens were a place of wonder and hope; today, we see it as sheer nothingness, as if all that awaits us is an endless circle in our orbit around our Sun. If Earth is all there is, then mankind is doomed to perpetual infancy, and Tsiolkovsky will have been proved eminently sagacious, but wrong.

The ceaseless preoccupation of popular culture with the trivial is a tragic waste of the talent we have as a people, as a generation, and as a culture. Not so long ago, those who are middle-aged now looked up into the skies and saw planets just like our own, only more exotic, more challenging, and even more glorious to behold. But since the 1970’s, we have become tragically bound to Mother Earth, taking the position of her defender, obsessing over issues of pollution and industrialization and mundane things of that order.

What used to be called progress was deemed an offense against Earth. A famous advertisement for a new car today describes a car so eco-friendly, it practically disappears in no time, as twigs blowing in the wind. Instead of making a mark upon the universe, the popular thing to do is to assimilate into nothingness, to leave nature the mistress of our destiny.

Awake, fellow beings. We slumber at our peril. Our technology falters as we gaze at our navel; an asteroid with our names on it will eventually cause our planetary doom, and we will have nothing to show for it except a future lost to things of Earthly temptation.

In holding too fast to the Earth, we may share the extinction of its life. And we will have no one but ourselves to blame.

15. Irishtrekkie - March 9, 2008

good old nasa , i have hugh amounts of respect for nasa but i also lose some because of the america only policy they seem to want to do ( i think its more polical then anything ) i mean sure you can have a forgin astronaunt on the suttle but when you talk about building spacecraft and technology they dont want to hear from you , i mean i am talking about this from the side of my nations ageny (ESA – European space ageny ) that ESA where interest in working together on the next spacecraft ( basically what you call the orion ) but nasa where not interested.

i know ESA(European Space agency) is now working with Roskosmos( Russians) and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency ) to bulid the CSTS , which i hope will go ahead, as i think working together is the way forward , between ESA , Roskosmos and JAXA ( i also know that the russian gave the chinese some help with their programe and it would be interesting to get them involed in my opinon) , i mean when International space station was build i thought that was it , this was the furture , nations working together , it would not be able who got to mars first or who put the flag on it, but the fact it was done.

Maybe i am watching too much star trek and dreaming too much , but to me if we are going to spending billions on space ( and we should ) it makes sense to work together . I mean i get the opinion that some countries media view the ISS as a failer and not the way they want to do things in the future. what do other think about this ?

16. Richard Daystrom - March 9, 2008

The next administration is really going to have a hard time not spending on space exploration regardless of who is in the White House. Just go to Spacedaily.com and see the other countries willing to spend the money on research and development. Of course the money we send them in aid or whatever probably compensates the difference they would have have spent. If we don’t watch out (US) we will end up sucking hind tit…

17. justcorbly - March 9, 2008

Before we bash NASA too much, we need to remember that NASA’s mission and budget are determined by the President and the Congress, not by NASA. The USA has a civilan space program and its broad goals and objectives are determined in the White House.

While I think NASA’s human flights post-Apollo have been grossly disappointing and often pointless, in fairness those missions were mandated by the President. NASA did not want to cancel all Apollo activity after Apollo 17. NASA did not want to build and fly the shuttle as it was eventually designed. NASA wanted to build a base on the moon and put people on Mars in the 1980’s.

We also need to remember that the primary thing separating us from a world approximating that of Star Trek — even before the federal budget — is the matter of propulsion. Simply put, it takes too long to get from A to B. We need scientific and engineering breakthroughs that can increase the speed at which humans can travel in space by at least an order of magnitude. Not warp technology, just something that van get us to Mars in a few weeks instead of a few years. The longer the journey in space, the more it costs and the greater the risk.

Finally, while I don’t agree that the primary purpose of human space flight is to inspire people stuck on the planet, I also do not agree that the primary purpose of space travel is to conduct scientific research. The primary purpose of human space travel is just that: humans travelling in space. It is simply a way of getting from one place to another. One there, people will do what they’ve always done, including some research.

18. CmdrR - March 9, 2008

Does this mean Barack is in the movie?

My love of NASA in the 1960’s is boundless. My love of the beauracracy that holds that name definitely knows limits. There’s no way to say this gently, so I’ll just say it: Space is too daunting to do anything but go boldly. That means many will die. Many. Do we have to be reckless? No. But, moving at a snail’s pace means little or no tangible results to a frustrated taxpayer population. We need incentive. Maybe one day we’ll all get behind the spirit of exploration, a la Trek. Heck, I’m ready now. But, the only thing I see motivating real advancement in space is profit. Yep, as Gordon Gecko says, “Greed is good.” Private enterprise (hmm, nice word) is our best bet. I do think that means some mistakes and MANY red shirts. But, as a people we owe it to ourselves. I don’t think there’ll be any shortage of volunteers. If I can kick the tires first, I’ll get on the first rocket. Maybe, the first starship?

19. Aaron R. (Sisko would approve) - March 9, 2008

Creepy 14 creepy… Trek after all is about respecting and loving nature and planets. People, plants, or air the prime directive must apply. For had the dinosaur and earlier beings yet not been vanquished by the tidal forces of our universe we ourselves would not be here. If it is indeed to be our moment of doom one day in the future I don’t see why we should so much reflect on why didn’t we stop it but rather the journey and memories attained in our brief existence. For in the entire universe there may be a million, million earth type planets… who will tell me they have proof otherwise? A moment in time is all humanity will be in totality and why not relish our journey into the darkness of eternal night while we venture it together than destroying everything and everyone else around us.

20. Lancelot Narayan - March 9, 2008

There’s a lot of talk in the above about ‘America’s position’ in all this.

The UFP is based on ALL countries of the world, ALL peoples, coming together for a common goal.

It is important that that begins now. Not only could this help in “restoring our good name overseas”, as Andre Bormanis puts it, but could help in understanding between everybody. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Lancelot Narayan
London, England

21. NCC-73515 - March 9, 2008

Note that the first german sci-fi spacecraft was also named “Orion” – and it aired ONE week before trek!!! in 1966.

22. A Familiar Voice - March 9, 2008

While Senator Obama may speak of a loss of vision at NASA, it is quite ironic that it is at this very point that NASA has been the best-led and most visionary when considered over the last three decades. NASA Director Michael Griffin, almost single-handedly, has implemented President Bush’s plan to reach for the Moon once again, grappling and overcoming the problems of budget and timing once deemed entirely insurmountable. Through his hands-on efforts and ceaseless defense of America’s current vision for space exploration, Project Constellation may be the last, best hope for reaching the Moon again within our generation.

Whatever one thinks of the current President, he at least had the audacity to announce a plan to a crewed return to the Moon and eventually to land a human being on Mars. Director Griffin, unlike his most recent predecessors, proved more than capable of bringing this vision to life — and this, despite all the intramural squabbling going on within the space exploration community.

Budgetary cuts as hypothesized by Senator Obama would be a gross error and a punitive measure at precisely the wrong time in our history. Such cuts would harm not only our prospects to return to the Moon, but also the robotic exploration of our universe that has experienced such great success of late.

One wonders if politicians really know what it is that benefits our shared destiny in space. It is certainly disappointing to regard threats of budget cuts as an incentive where — as here — budgetary constraints have already been an essential part of the problem to begin with. Perhaps they should be reminded that when one faces a loss of muscle in our reach toward space, the last thing we need is the amputation of the arms that only just now are striving to reach it. Perhaps someone should remind our politicians that they should serve only to advance our mutual goals as a people, and that if they do not, then they surely do not deserve to be our depository of hope or dreams.

23. A Familiar Voice - March 9, 2008

But, 19, I have no desire for humanity to share the fate of the dinosaurs. Besides which, the various species of dinosaurs existed for hundreds of millions of years, while humanity has lived for barely a few hundred thousand.

Defending the Earth is well and good, but how well do we defend her if we doom mankind to extinction, all in the name of protecting her?

Furthermore, if Mother Earth is so fecund as you say, would she not shrug off our meager pollution in any event?

With the deaths of millions of species throughout the years, I should say that as far as Earth is concerned, it is every species for itself. As a member of that species, it is my duty to protect it at least as well as I protect the Earth.

24. asylumjn - March 9, 2008

#14

How could we possibly expect to terraform and colonize other planets even less hospitable to life than our own if we don’t learn how to maintain ecological balance on our own planet first?

25. newman - March 9, 2008

exploring the final frontier gives people hope.

26. A Familiar Voice - March 9, 2008

The future of space exploration belongs to all of humanity — regardless of race, creed, or nationality. That the United States has seen fit to advance its geopolitical agenda is no reason that other nations should not race forward. I agree with those who believe that whatever will pass in our future for the United Federation of Planets will be spearheaded only by those with the desire as well as the capability to see the benefits of space even beyond the need of the next election cycle.

If it is ESA, or JAXA, or Roskosmos, or the China National Space Administration that manages to break away from our conceptual prison around low Earth orbit, then so be it. It is no longer, in practice, a question of who will succeed NASA if NASA fails, and that, perhaps, is not a bad thing.

The question, “If not NASA, who?” might no longer be the conundrum it once was. And any regrets along these lines will surely not be among those who seized the opportunity to succeed it in its by-then former mission to explore the farthest reaches beyond our grasp.

27. A Familiar Voice - March 9, 2008

24, as a race we are capable of walking and chewing gum in a simultaneously pattern. We can both defend the Earth and yet also not only harbor, but express the will and capacity to leave her for other places beyond the suffocating comfort it provides.

It need hardly be demonstrated that a grown man who stays in the cradle surely does not deserve it — no matter how well, or how ecologically, it is maintained.

28. Anthony Pascale - March 9, 2008

a familiar voice….there is no need to dominate the comments…you have already written more than Andre

29. Garovorkin - March 9, 2008

At the rate things are going for this country it may not be us but China.Russia ,japan or the European union that lands a man on Mars. Our nation is going broke on these foolish foreign adventures in Iraq and in Afganistan so whre is the money going to come from? its easy for people like Clinton and Obama and Bush to sound off about how important space exploration is because this a promise that if not kept won’t cost them any political capital with the voters at home and it sounds good to voters only during campaign season. Exploration space requires capital investment and resource that we no longer have the luxury of spending. To top it off when times get tight the last thing that people want to think about is space exploration, but rather about employment ,education for their children and keeping food on the table. The reality is that we are slowly loosing not only our technological edge and with it our pride in what we achieved in the past with regard to space exploration.

30. James Heaney - Wowbagger - March 9, 2008

It is, to me, fair strange that Mr. Bormanis should present as an example Senator Obama, whose space strategy is the most moribund of the three. Sen. Obama opposes manned space flight and seeks to cut funding for NASA.

If were to vote based on space policy–and, like many of you, I will not–I would vote for Senator McCain, whose support for the Bush space plan has been total and is the only candidate who isn’t talking about slashing the lunar program. “Let us now embark upon this great journey into the stars to find whatever may await us”? Is that not an awesome mission?

It is a very nice article by Mr. Bormanis. I hope someone with some power reads it. The exploration of outer space is not a fun game–it is a human imperative, without which we will indeed one day find ourselves extinct.

I am impressed by your eloquence, Familiar Voice, if not by all of your beliefs. You write beautifully.

31. asylumjn - March 9, 2008

The point I am trying to make here is that the same knowledge and ingenuity that would be required in order to terraform a planet or maintain life support systems on a manned spaceflight are not being demonstrated very well on our own planet. We’re losing balance on our own planet. How do we tip things in our favor on a lesser planet or artificially maintain things on a spaceship?

32. justcorbly - March 9, 2008

#18: While profit will be perhaps the biggest boost to space travel, the incentives for it must be intrinsic, not structured as handouts from governments. Today, we see a very few businesspeople who are gambling that there is money to be made by launching satellites or providing glorified joy rides to the very rich. Neither activity can be considered space travel in its truest sense, but they do parallel very early attempts to make money with the airplane.

#20: The political unification that permitted Starfleet and the UFP to be launched as initiatives of Earth preceded those initiatives. Whether that kind of unification is needed before real space travel becomes a reality depends on many factors. Frankly, though, I don’t expect to see the people of the Earth give up there ethnic and nationalistic biases until and unless they all face a single threat from outside, i.e., off the planet.

#26: Each of the agencies you cite are financed by and serve the purposes of nations with specific and insular concerns. None of those agencies, including ESA, are fostering space travel as a means to brings about the political unification of the planet.

If that political unification is a prerequisite for real human space travel, I suspect we will be waiting a very, very long time. (Note: the real prerequisites for serious human space travel are funding and political will. Each of those is not dependent on global unification.

It’s also worth remembering that the political unification described in Trek came about as a result of a nuclear World War III, and that serious space, i.e., warp, travel came about not so much because of that unification as it did because of a techincal breakthrough (Cochrane) and the resulting first contact with an alien species (Vulcans). I will suggest that that scenario — first human warp signature detected by aliens who show up to check out what’s going on — would have a similar outcome with or without global unification.

Putting aside ethnic and nationalistic bigotries is an essential thing, but I do not think it, alomne, is essential for human space travel.

33. Sulu was better - March 9, 2008

Create technologies similar to warp drives, transporters, and enable humanity to explore the universe, in a scientific and peaceful manner???

YES WE CAN!!!!!!!

LOL, I love Obama…

34. kevin - March 9, 2008

Ah, the greatness that is Obama. I cannot wait until he takes office and magically cure aids,diabetes,cancer,rickets,scurvy and jock itch. He will make the lame walk and the blind will see…cannot wait

35. justcorbly - March 9, 2008

Oh… if Obama, or anyone else, really is arguing that NASA’s budget may need to be reduced until its mission is clarified, then he is being specious. As president, it would be his responsibility, not NASA’s, to clarifiy that agency’s mission. Mission clarification won’t happen unless the president spells it out.

36. Sulu was better - March 9, 2008

Number 32

The aliens have already come here when they detected the signature of nuclear explosions, they have been monitoring human technology and are very interested in our nuclear capabilities. See roswell UFO crash right after we detonated our first nuclear weapon as a test, in the same area in new mexico. There have been so many cases, ufos flying over nuclear bases, throwing beams to scan, disabling warheads, even throwing beams on missles in the air and disabling the warheads…

However our real aliens dont seem to want contact, they are monitoring us and keeping a distance.. perhaps they have their own prime directive.

They are real and they are here. And humans are so stupid that most dont even believe this yet! LOL

37. justcorbly - March 9, 2008

#34: Kevin, please remember that the “Yes We Can” theme addresses, very specifically, the despair that millions of Americans of both parties feel about their ability to influence political events. That slogan means yes, we can change the way our government works. It does not mean we can bring about utopia.

38. colin - March 9, 2008

Sixty years ago, America could build a fleet of airplanes for the war effort. Now, when we attempt to build the next generation of fighters, we are having to rely on the contributions of other nations. This is due to the cost of the materials involved, and the expertise of the different parties involved. A fighter plane program is far less expensive than a manned space vehicle program.

When I heard that NASA refused aid from ESA for Project Constellation, I am dismayed. If we can’t afford to fully finance a jet fighter program (from concept to production), considering the amount of money that is allocated to the Defense department, how the heck are we going to finance this program? This is a terrible mistake, and I fear it will have repercussions on the progress of this project.

I am very doubtful that our nation will ever succeed again in landing humans on the Moon. Like so many other things in our nation, I believe we are ‘outsourcing’ this effort to other nations.

39. justcorbly - March 9, 2008

#36: I think that’s a bit wacky, but hey. In any case, the thing to remember about the Vulcans showing up after Earth’s first warp flight is that the flight demonstrated human ability to get to Vulcan. Vulcans then, or your alleged aliens now, have little incentive to fret about us while we’re trapped on one planet.

40. Garovorkin - March 9, 2008

Mr Bormanis is very eloquent writer indeed but the practical realities that no one here wants to hear is that space exploration will not unite us, cannot bring us together. There is too much that divides be it political, religious cultural, we will always fight and compete against one another not for the good of our species but for survival.

41. justcorbly - March 9, 2008

>>”A fighter plane program is far less expensive than a manned space vehicle program.”

Not necesarily true. Remember that the cost of a single B-2 aircraft is at least $1 billion. That’s a significan fractiont of NASA’s annual budget allocation, which was only something over $16 billion in 2007. Any number of individual programs withing Defense exceed that every year by a subtantial margin.

42. Hugh Mann Bean - March 9, 2008

Just look at the program descriptions of both Obama and Clinton. They use artful terminology to achieve the same goal, which is to terminate the current American effort to go back to the moon. There is nothing in their programs that suggests that they are remotely interested in the moon, and Clinton in particular says that she wants robotic probes to lay the groundwork for future human exploration. Obama’s program is no better — just read it and see that, spacewise, he’s more interested in using satellites to solve global warming than in anything else.

I’m never going to vote for McCain, but I agree with the person upthread who said that McCain’s program is the best of the three. That’s a dirty rotten shame, when the Republican candidate has the most progressive space program of all.

As for all the talk about saving the Earth, keep in mind that Apollo was created by men who were brought up believing in anything but ecology. Earth was the least of their concerns because getting OFF it was so much better. Maybe it’s time we learned from that.

43. 4 8 15 16 23 42 - March 9, 2008

I’m tired of the NASA-centrism that seems to dominate conversations about the future of humans in space. (Thus, I like to see other responders like #14, #20, #26, etc. talk about the other programs.)

I do not agree with the sentiment that another space race, like with China, is the answer. I believe that the Roddenberry-like vision of a United Earth space program should start happening now — and I mean now, like this instant. Enough is enough with NASA doing one thing, Roscosmos another, China, JAXA, ESA, and the Brazilian space agency all doing their own thing (work on the ISS notwithstanding). We need to see full cooperation, with every country pulling together in all space endeavors. That is the only way to make space exploration and colonization feasible in the short and long run.

As the ESA ATV Jules Verne goes up in a beautiful Ariane 5 rocket today, I feel a swell of joy at the token international cooperation, but with the bittersweet tinge of regret that mostly every country’s budget is still nationally oriented.

The U.S. should be the one to take the lead, but sadly, the U.S., with all its might, is still the most selfish and self-serving country in the world. I hope I see a little of that change with the upcoming election. I know I will vote accordingly.

44. Garovorkin - March 9, 2008

#43 the Us doesn’t have the will to take the lead in anything with regard to space travel. The money that could be going to it is being spent on defense and that gets priority over everything nowadays. By outsourcing everything we pretty much sealed . If there is a space race left we have long since thrown in the damned towel.

45. CE3J - March 9, 2008

So if Barak is a Trek fan, does that mean that we will give up money? In ST:IV Kirk said they don’t use it.
Boy, I’d love that. Or perhaps everything in the future is on cards.
But that would really mess things up.
So let’s push for the future and a world where we do things for the betterment of mankind.

46. boJac - March 9, 2008

I wrote my congressman about the NASA issue.

I told him that America is all about exploration, and we wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for explorers. Then I said that NASA’s job is to explore, and that to cut their budget would be unAmerican.

A juvenille letter, I know. But at least I let him know what I think!

MANIFEST DESTINY!

47. Garovorkin - March 9, 2008

#45 lofty words are a person powerful enough to make this happen? and #46 Bojac , your letter no matter how well intentioned probably made no impact on your Congressman, if anything he probably never read it. Your congressman has more important issues on his mind and i guarantee you it ain’t space travel. I do applaud your effort though, I would not have had the guts to do that, at least you actually tried to do something which is more then most of us are willing to do.

48. US Taxpayer Dude - March 9, 2008

Hahaha! I paid more than $75,000 in federal taxes last year, bless my CPA.

No more spending for NASA, for foreign aid, for silly “Feel Good” programs without effect. No more Splendid Little Wars either, for that matter. Ha! To pay for this space fantasy, after paying for a Laurence of Arabia fantasy, after paying for the Great Society fantasy, I will be forced into bankruptcy and then I will pay no taxes for anyone!!!!

(Well, actually my employees will be forced into bankruptcy. I’ll get by — but I won’t be paying any taxes by then anyway.)

Wake up people: real life co$t$ money. Lot$ of it.

49. Son - March 9, 2008

Well, if it wasn’t for people like Christopher Columbus pushing for funding for his little trip across the pond…well, we might have been set back decades or centuries. The influx of riches coming in from the Americas help fueled the Renaissance.
The same has happened in our early space history. Lots of technologies have been employed in modern society thanks to experimentation by NASA or the Air Force in developing space tech.
If we’re willing to mine the earth of all its resources, we should be just as willing to head to other planets to find more resources, ones that could allow upgrades in travel and technology. Besides, that’s the driving force behind humanity, no?
After all, why did Christopher Columbus decide to come to America? Not to find land, just to find a quicker path to Indonesia. And why did they want that? So they could get resources from Indonesia to Europe faster.

50. Garovorkin - March 9, 2008

#49 this my last comment for this evening and on this article. Us taxpayer dude your talking practical realities that no one here wants to listen to. The truth is that there are more pie in the sky dreamers then is revenue pie to pay for these dreams of space the final frontier. Dreamers don’t understand economic reality, but they do get anawful lot of peolple to by into waht they are saying.

51. Scott - March 9, 2008

Sad to say, but the three Presidential candidates are paying the same lip service to NASA and space exploration that their antecedents did for decades. I was in attendance on the Mall in D.C. at the 20th anniversary of the Moon landings when George H W Bush made a speech in the presence of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins saying we were headed to Mars. Nearly 20 years later, we’re not anywhere closer to landing on Mars.

The kind of massive effort to get back into space — the Moon, Mars and beyond — will take some kind of external pressure to happen. The generation that was weened on the Apollo missions and Star Trek is now in power, and they are not insisting on a bold movement into the final frontier. What happened to us? Was it really just about beating the Soviets?

It may take discovering Earth-like planets orbiting nearby stars, or hearing a radio signal generated by intelligent beings to get us back in the race. If we wait until we need other worlds for resources, it will be too late.

Scott B. out.

52. reptileboy - March 9, 2008

I have a great love of space travel and human exploration. Most of this comes from Star Trek. Perhaps not from the stories that the various shows have weaved, but from the close ties the franchise has developed with NASA and the scientific community.

While it is nice to see that Obama is a fan of Star Trek and its vision of humanity in the future, it is also worrying that many of the Presidential candidates wish to cut NASA’s budget in order to shunt funding to other areas. Some advocate greater education funding at the expense of NASA’s human spaceflight program. But I wonder if a visit to a school by some of the country’s astronauts would be more inspiring than anything that throwing money at schools can do.

It’s really interesting to see so many varied and passionate responses by fans to this issue. It does seem that Star Trek fans, even divided by partisan lines can share a real love and fascination with space and spaceflight.

I also agree with those who are dismayed by America’s insistence that future exploration on the moon should be done solely by NASA. Considering the success that the ISS has been, with space agencies from across the world working together. It seems like such a backwards step. As ESA enjoys great success witht he launch of the Columbus modules and the ATV working its way to the station as we speak, it seems incredible that NASA would not wish to partner itself with organisation that has unique expertise that could increase the chances of success for NASA. Likewise, I think it will be somewhat embarassing for NASA that between the retirement of the space shuttle and the launch of the first Ares vehicle, they will have to rely on Russian Soyuz flights to take their astronauts into space. Surely if they can be such good friends now, why not so in the future.

Great to hear from Andre Bormanis on the site. I always enjoyed his work on Star Trek over the years. I really hope we hear more of him on Trek Movie.

53. Chris Peterson - March 9, 2008

Competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to space. The space race made the US and Russia develop space technologies faster than they ever would’ve if they weren’t competing. I think that full cooperation between the ESA, NASA…etc. might make things take longer and be more expensive than if they were competing to get there. In short, competition breeds innovation, and innovation is exactly what we need to send people to other worlds. How audacious would it be if the X Prise foundation sponsored a prise for the first group to set up a working colony on Mars? Personally, I’d take a one-way ticket now if I thought I could live on Mars long enough to see us develop reliable transportation back from Mars in the future.

Remember that getting home was one of the biggest problems in sending people to the moon. The same is true with Mars.

In any case, I think that one of the biggest problems with U.S. space policy is that it’s too often tied to a particular party. I know plenty of people who are unenthusiastic about Constilation because it was initiated by Bush. I believe that those people would feel differently if the same exact vision were layed out by a president from their own party, or just one they liked better. That’s sad. Constilation is a good idea, and I’m afraid it could be axed just because of a change in administration. Space efforts are very long-term projects and can’t afford to be micromanaged that way.

54. Ryan T. Riddle - March 9, 2008

We stand, not on a new frontier but on the next frontier. The next frontier for all mankind, not just Americans. We stand, awaiting that next frontier with the hope that it will bring a better tomorrow, a new day and further our reach. We stand, on the edge of the sunrise. We stand, anxiously for the dawn. We stand, with the dream of living among the stars.

And the dream is to stand there together as one, one race — the human race.

(With apologies to JFK, but I was inspired. Let us hope that whoever wins– let it be Obama– sees the value in going to the stars.)

55. justcorbly - March 9, 2008

#43: U.S. spending on space exceeds that of all other nations combined. For decades, NASA’s budget, while increasing slightly in dollar size, has remained as a reasonably fixed percentage of the federal budget. Nations fund space travel because they believe it serves national goals, not because it is good for humanity. That also applies to ESA.

#49: European theft, enslavement and exploitation in the Americas certainly enriched a few lucky people, but it had little, if anything, to do with the Renaissance, which was well underway prior to Columbus.

#52: ISS has not been a success. It is years and years behind schedule, vastly over budget, and nowhere near fulfilling its orginal goals. If ISS is an example of the fruit international cooperation will bear, we are doomed. In fact, many would argue, and I agree, that ISS is a dead end that came into existence as a make-work effort to allow a handful of nations to pose as cooperating in space. As far as I’m concerned, the only legitimate purpose for a space station is as a fuel and repair depot for ships that actually go somewhere in space.

56. A - March 9, 2008

Obama liking Star Trek definately shows he’s a smart guy. I approve.

57. MrRegular - March 9, 2008

The fundamental problem of the Space Shuttle has been its reliablity as a low earth orbit transportation vehicle. It has not fulfilled its promise.
Which is hard to accept, in light of the legendary X-15, which climbed into outer space from the side of a B-52 before I was born some 40 odd years ago. Taking the next step beyond the X-15, the proposed X-20 DynaSoar would have become the first operational spaceplane by the mid 1960s. On-demand access to low earth orbit is the first step to manned exploration of the Cosmos.

58. orion pirate - March 9, 2008

I know who I’m voting for now.

59. reptileboy - March 9, 2008

#55 It is debatable if the ISS is a failure or not. My biggest problem with it has to be the handling of its budget. So much of it was wasted by NASA on frivilous modules, unrealistic ideas and an inbittered sense of territorialsim i.e, seperate living quarters for US astornauts. What really bugs me is that NASA used the budget for the ISS to cover its overrun on its own Space Station Freedom concept in the 1980’s and its Shuttle costs.

The ISS has demonstrated that international partners can work in space, albeit not as gracefully as might be hoped. That said, previous link up such as the Apollo-Soyuz link ups and the Shuttle-Mir missions show that co-operation does not require a giant space station and a massive budget to cover it.

It also seems that NASA’s attitude now is simply to finish the construction of the station, run it for a few years, and then scrap it. A view I find very hard to fathom. Whatever happens to the ISS in the future, whether or not NASA want’s a continued involvement with it, the station will probably be used for far more meaningful science than NASA will achieve in the next 20 years if all its is focused on is a lunar expedition.

#56 I wouldn’t posit that Obama is a smart guy just because he likes Star Trek. Some of the dumbest, most annoying, and frankly repulsive people I’ve ever met have been fans.

60. Benjamin Sisko - March 9, 2008

I hope so that McCain would win, beacuse if Obama wins he will terminate space program for years. And we don’t want that.

61. colin - March 10, 2008

I believe we will witness in our lifetime the diminishing importance of the manned program, and that the vehicle planned for Project Constellation will prove to be yet another orbital shuttle. When we do pay attention to the project, I feel, it will be when astronauts have died and a space vehicle has been lost.

62. Benjamin Sisko - March 10, 2008

#61
Oh, please, cut the cr**. :P

63. Iowagirl - March 10, 2008

Heady, inspirational, magical, visionary, imaginative…

Ah, those were the days…

64. EdDR - March 10, 2008

I think the only loss of vision for anything. seems to be coming from the Democratic Party. I don’t agree about some of the things that have happened, but I certainly don’t agree with the doom and gloom that the Dems seem to always be harping about. I find that any politician from any party seems to forget is that primarily they are the servants of the People, and the People seem to forget that they have a voice, albeit, a weak one. If we don’t speak up and make grassroot efforts and rally and tell our elected officials that we are fed up with their placement of their priorities with political partylines instead of American interests, then we deserve whatever we get and get handed. I email my elected “servants” and at least let them get an earful of what I think.

65. ajd - March 10, 2008

#64 That was very inciteful. And I believe what you suggest is already happening.

ST Missile Defense vs. Exploration. We all decide where our priorities should be. No doom. No gloom.

Heck, we have a woman and a black man running for president. If it weren’t for ideologies in art like TOS, this might not have been possible for another 50 years. Let’s look at this all differently. It is not politics that is the problem. Maybe it’s our assumption that the people who serve us SHOULD be boxed tightly in certain ideologies. Rather, WE are responsible for the behavior of those we elect. And we should expect more from whoever we put in office. But that means we have to work a little bit. I’m willing, no matter who is elected, to do my part – make my voice heard about space exploration. Who’s with me?

66. justcorbly - March 10, 2008

#59: NASA will stop constructing ISS hen the shuttle closes down in 2010 because the station’s contruction will be finished. The ISS will stay crewed beyond that.

If the primary purpose of ISS was to demonstrate international cooperation, then it isn’t worth it. If its primary purpose was to conduct research, then, it isn’t worth it. If the primary purpose of ISS had been to help space vehicles get to the moon and beyond, then it would have been very much worth it.

Fundamentally, the purpose of human space travel is not research. The purposes of that travel are the same as any other kind of human travel.

Both ISS and the Shuttle exist because Congress and the President (Nixon, at that time) cut the budget from Apollo forcing NASA to cancel their remaining flights, and because they refused to fund any post-Apollo crewed activity beyond LEO. As a result, NASA was left with the make-work shuttle and space station scheme. Both projects exist only to justify the other. We need a shuttle to get to the station, and we need a station so the shuttle would have some place to go. Meanwhile, ISS goes nowhere but in pointless circles.

We have known how to go to and from LEO for more than 40 years. Neither the shuttle or the ISS have added to that capabiliity.

The real lesson of the shuttle is the cost, complexity and risk of flying such vehicles. There are reasons why the shuttle never came near its intended launch schedule or flight turnaround times. Those reasons include much more than just bureaucratic and corporate bungling. As an engineering problem, it is simply very, very difficult to do. Those who wax nostalgic about the X-15 or the X-20 need to remember that. They also need to remember that the X-15 coasted up to the 60 mile mark at a speed somewhat over 3000 mph. It was no more a space vehicle than Spaceship One. (Any aircraft that can achieve high speeds can reach surpisingly high altitudes if they fly the same kind of coasting course, including current military aircraft.) The X-15 carried no cargo and needed to fly more than four times faster to achive orbit. The X-20 never flew, of course, but would not have carried any cargo, either, and only one or two people. It would not have sufficed as a support craft for an LEO station.

True space travel only begins in LEO. Getting to and from LEO is the messy and tricky part. We need to concentrate on making access to LEO cheap and routine, while building a space station whose purpose is to function as a spaceport for the construction, launhc, and return of true space vehicles.

67. GraniteTrek - March 10, 2008

There is one other alternative to the Space Shuttle currently in development, by SpaceX – the Dragon capsule. It’s actually being funded by NASA as an interim replacement between the shuttle and Orion, but in many ways it resembles Orion – the capsule will either carry cargo or seven astronauts. SpaceX is a fascinating story, started by Elon Musk (Paypal) with the stated goal of being able to develop rockets and spacecraft cheaper and faster. It’s met all benchmarks set by the government and has purchased Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral for it’s heavy lift Falcon 9 (the pad was formerly used for Titan IV launches, including Cassini and Mars Observer). Check them out at http://www.spacex.com .

68. FREAKAZOID - March 10, 2008

Would it be wrong if I voted for Obama simply because he is a Star Trek fan? :p

69. Crusade2267 - March 10, 2008

Another point for Obama’s awesome-ometer.

I think that the problem is the Soviets aren’t there anymore. Without some way to link space exploration to National Security, we have no impetus to spend money on it. It’s that way with lots of deserving things, including space flight and scientific research and Higher Education. You only get money if you can tie it to National Security.

I think that in the 21st century, unless things change a bit in the government, space flight will largely be dominated by private companies and other countries. (That’s not a bad thing… did the U.S. Government fund Zephram Cochrane?)

70. The Master - March 10, 2008

I hope we do it but I an not sure why iit has to be a capsul set up. Why not some thing akin to either a deathglider with the new ion technology and mag lev technology. along with traditional rockets.
For years astronauts have been pilots ( usally the rare breed of Test Pilots) but everything is contolled by ground control. Give the control back to the pilots. The history of aviation is full with pilots who designed better craft why cannot it be with NASA?? What about improving the design that Virgin Galactic is using or other space planes that came out of that contest a few years back.
The answer is simple NASA is a bloated burecarcy that cannot get out of its own well meaning way. Or at least that is how it is percieved in the media and by the public at large. That needs to change.

71. The Ghost of Space pioneering President John Fitzgerald Kennedy - March 10, 2008

Fact: Both Mccain and Hillary WANT a Mars landing by 2020, Oboma is wishy washy ..at best, keep that in mind when you go to the polls.

regards,

President Kennedy

72. The Master - March 10, 2008

Obama is as wishy washy wih great deal of things. I don’t see great thing happening with Clinton given her track record. As for McCain, I can only hope he can get things going he is a maverick( no suprise as he was a fighter pilot.

73. Brixton - March 10, 2008

I have to say, unfortunately, Mr. Bormanis article is pretty weak (and full of the same old page filler about 60’s spacefaring, Trek etc., that we’ve heard a thousand times before). Obama, has done a bit more than say he ‘might’ trim the Nasa budget. And wondering what will grow out of Obama’s ‘support’? What support. He’s said he wants to delay the Constellation program by 5 years (conveniently putting it beyond the election cycle of a 2nd Obama term), effectively killing the program. I’d like to think a President Obama would realize that his focus on inner city science education (paid for by funds redirected FROM Nasa), would ultimately have well-trained scientists with one less area of endeavor- space. Trek fans are sophisticated. Bormanis ought to write an article that’s worth reading.

74. The Master - March 10, 2008

NASA need to be rethought and sent to the semi-private sector ( think Lockeed martin or boeing. Last I checked thgis was a capitalist country not the Communist States of America.

75. Crusade2267 - March 10, 2008

#74

Virgin Galactic is what I have my eye on. Granted, they’re planning space tourism, but the private sector often moves faster than the government. Privately funded space exploration may only be a few excentric millionaires away…

76. The Master - March 10, 2008

#75 but is the way to go simply becuase government has become way more socalist then it was during the time of JFK.
I think tax breaks should be given to companies to devolp and compete in the aerospace industry and be supervised by a more foward thinking NASA. This is not to say that the military is not devloping its own space program (I suspect they are, as a reasonble assumption, perhaps I have seen to much scifi movies or tv shows)
I am keeping my eye on Virgin Galactic as well.

77. Plum - March 10, 2008

NASA mission is easy…

No foolish Moon or Mars missions. Nor any weapons in space (I’m looking at you America). More SCIENCE. Satellites, probes, telescopes. Things that teach us things and give us the chance to spot any planet killers out there. Remember, this is about survival as much as science.

Manned mission into space are of no benefit to humanity at this time nor will they be for generations. We gotta discover THIS planet first before we venture out to find others.

IMHO… of course. :)

78. justcorbly - March 10, 2008

#74: The private sector is, in fact, building the launch vehicles, the shuttles, etc., and it is, in fact, the private sector that is operating the flights. NASA isn’t building spacecraft. BTW, if you think that the free market is at work in the aerospace industry, you try to start a new airplane business to compete with Boeing. Corporatists would have us all believe that low barriers to entry don’t represent an essential part of a free market.

#75: Virgin Galactic is going to offer joyrides to rich people. It isn’t going to fund human space travel. The differences between shoving an airplane on a parabolic path with just enough acceleration that it tips over just above the 60 mile mark and traveling in space amounts to the difference between throwing a cardboard toy airplane over your house and flying a 747 across the Pacific.

There’s probably some money to be made in things like Branson’s toy, and in private unmanned launches to LEO, but that’s a lng way from legitimate human space travel.

#77: The best way to do science — anywhere — is with flesh and blood scientists. I’ll repeat: Human space travel is not about science.

79. Crusade2267 - March 10, 2008

In it’s earliest incarnations (when it was a vacuum tube that went one block), the New York subway was to give joyrides to rich people. Almost 140 years later, I use the system that spawned from that seed to get to work every day. You never know what is going to grow out of what.

80. justcorbly - March 10, 2008

The difference, #79, is that the subway met a need people were already willing to pay for: transport to and from their jobs, shops, homes, etc. In otherwords, the subway met pre-existing needs, needs that would have been fulfilled even without the subway.

Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic plans to allow a handful of people to coast in a small airplane to just over 60 miles in altitude, and then flitter down to the surface in a manner rather like a badminton ball. People will pay for that, but no one has a need to do that.

I certainly hope that Galactic’s effort spawn better things, but it pays to acknowledge that they’re building a rather purposeless vehicle that’s a deadend as far as space travel is concerned.

81. girl6 - March 10, 2008

Obama is Vulcan:

http://www.cafepress.com/upsidethehead

82. Warptek - March 10, 2008

Oh sure, let’s “trim the budget” even further on an agency that has been hobbled by “Earthers” to almost the point of irrelevancy. No true Star Trek fan would do that. Obama just wants the sci fi geek vote. What Obama fails to mention that despite the crippling budget cuts over the last 30 years (mostly by Democrats mind you) NASA has truly done some wonderous things like keeping an aging fleet of shuttles operational, flying probes to the outer planets and landing robotic probes on the surface of Mars, not to mention building a space station. NASA is one of the very few agencies that is run very efficiently dollar for dollar compared to other bloated, beuracratic dinosaurs we have in the federal government that Obama (and Her Thighness) want to fund even further. NASA deserves MORE money not less.
Listen up people, Obama is a liberal and liberals DETEST the military and
only a little less so the space program. They feel the money is better spent
on Earth and their pie in the sky social programs. JFK was not a liberal in the modern sense of the word (dirty little secret Teddy wouldn’t want to get out) from a Democrat party that is long dead. He was a true visionary and saw the bigger picture.

83. justcorbly - March 11, 2008

>>” Obama is a liberal and liberals DETEST the military and
only a little less so the space program.”

As someone you’d certainly consider a liberal, I’ll disagree with that. I don’t detest the military and entusiatically support space exploration, especially human space travel.

You are correct, though, in the sense that for every conservative fanboy who thinks he/she must follow the commander-in-chief no matter what, there is a liberal who thinks the militar is always wrong and always unnecessary. Both sides are blinkered and brainwashed.

BTW, JFK supported the Apollo program as an effort to score points on the Soviets. There is no evidence that he supported a broader initative and no evidence that, absent the Cold War, he would have even considered funding Apollo. He wasn’t pursuing a vision or a “bigger picture”.

84. A Familiar Voice - March 11, 2008

It was the leadership of a Democrat — JFK — who made it our goal to land human beings on an extraterrestrial body. Let us not write off the Democratic Party as full of anti-exploration know-nothings.

The current committee leadership in the House of Representatives is very favorable toward the manned space program. I am thinking in particular of Representative Barbara Mikulski. Recently she even lobbied the Bush Administration to restore funds that she thought was critical to our future in space to NASA’s budget. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, a former NASA astronaut, is a dedicated space enthusiast and also a powerful voice in the U.S. Senate on behalf of that program. Both of them are Democrats.

If neither Senators Obama nor Clinton will prove capable of leadership on matters of space policy, then it will be up to Democrats like these to ensure that a future administration led by either of them does not forget that mankind’s destiny is not — and cannot be — to be imprisoned as a species belonging only to one planet, but, rather, firmly and irrevocably, and by necessity, is found only in the stars above.

85. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's Excalbian Duplicate - March 11, 2008

#83 you obviously know very little about President Kennedy if you think he had no interest in space beyond the Apollo project!

let the late great President speak for himself in his own words at this link:

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=8862

A true visionary!

86. EdDR - March 11, 2008

Hey #77 You think it’s only America with eyeing weapons in space? Last count is the Russians are still here, and lately China, with other smaller countries like North and South Korea, India, Pakistan, Iran, Israel and Japan developing continental and intercontinental capabilities and I now hear South Africa. So quit with the finger pointing and consider that it is a world epidemic that needs to be addressed by EVERYBODY. Does it really seem true that decimating this planet would benefit most of these countries. For some of the radicals -Yes. For the majority – No. Can it get out of control and potentially harm this world – Yes. Some have suggested that it is a flat world economy that needs to drive this world. I somewhat agree, but with our prediliction of who needs to be the Top Dog, and our “humanity” usually getting in the way, I don’t see how being “one world” will fix that particular problem. We usually see how America as a nation can shine when we are able to concentrate on ourelves and once we have developed that strength of character we are able to HELP others because of that strength, not to promote democracy, but to once again remind others that America, as a microcosm of the world, can show how people can for the most part get along with each other and do great things.

87. EdDR - March 11, 2008

#85 is right- excerpt from that speech he gave.

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too” JFK

Brave words, brave ideas. As the elected figurehead of this country, he forged us to “steel” ourselves to brunt the onslaught of a world that was rushing head-on at us, not to turn back and hide, but to overcome it and succeed and continue on.

Some things become more than what they actually started out to be.

Gene Roddenberry had an idea for a TV show that became much more than what he imagined it to be, because the people who watched it, took it and made it more in their hearts and mind as to what Earth had the potential to be.

Let us not disappoint ourselves.

88. British Naval Dude - March 11, 2008

No one’s gunna read this post of mine at this point so why not stir up some controversy? arrrrr….

SPOILSPORT WARNING

The US is at war, right? Right.
Yet they be still launching the Space Shuttle?
How much a shot- something like half a billion?
Are you kidding me??

Now, as much as I love space and the future possibilities, isn’t about time to ground the shuttles and filter that there government money into helpful programs in tha US?

Maybe I just be a socialist at heart, but blimey!
Would tha Federation take resources that could help people in both practical and dire ways and re-allocate those resources into missions that do diddley-squat for anyone (least wouldn’t be missed)?
Tha needs of tha many (on earth) outweigh tha needs of tha few (let’s go ta space crowd)- ya know!

Many shuttle experiments could be done far cheaper in an undersea lab. The fleet is OLD as well with 1970s technology and design.

And it’s just plain silly with commercial companies starting to launch satelites and the like for a little less money. Now, ya keep a shuttle or two for maintaince/repair missions but not schedule them…
what? Ya say NASA may well be stopping shuttle flights in tha near future?
Well good.

Hop aboard Virgin Galactic then.

Go to Mars? Dear God why? Until we have better technology in another century or so it’s juts impractical and wasteful.

Uh, oh… astro-scientist NASA guys and gals are gunna gang up and club me now! Arrrrr! Tha pain Tha Pain! I know ya gave us velcro and Tang and all that silver heat wrap stuff… arrrr….

arrrrr….

89. Forrest - March 11, 2008

You don’t have “another century or so”.

You are living in the last throes of technological civilization.

You had one shot at a long term future, and it went untaken.

Sorry. Brush up on those hunting and gathering skills.

90. British Naval Dude - March 11, 2008

One shot? What wazzat?
I may have been spewin’ a lot of this and that but I wasn’t quite so mysterious…

Hunting and gathering ain’t so bad… long as it’s somewhere warm…

arrrr…

91. Tassieboy - March 11, 2008

It seems to this humble Aussie, that it would be more efficient for countries to work together in the effort for space rather than competing against each other. Space races (like format wars) may incite competitiveness but they also result is much wasted work by the “loser”
Good to see this happening with the International Space Station.

92. Dr. Steve - March 11, 2008

I think Kennedy was wrong. We spent a decade working very hard all right – to count coup on the moon and the Russians. What did we get? The rights for a little chest pounding – most of our technology did NOT come from the space program, nor did it come from WWII. We would still have jet aircraft and pocket computers (possibly even sooner if we would have fixed patent laws and got a clue about economics). Funding basic research where you have no idea what the commercial results might be is the way to go. It always has been so. That’s the really hard work. That’s what we should be doing. We are forever declaring war to find a cure before we even can hope to articulate the cause. Understanding cause is the root to controlling reality.

We should have sent robots to the moon. Sample return missions. Missions that demonstrated we could make fuel from ice at the south lunar pole or chronditic asteroids. We need to develop infrastructure for space exploration and we haven’t done a lick there.

Instead of celebrating bringing up yet another steel tube into near-earth orbit (ala Harmony, Columbus, Kibo, Jules Verne) were are the inflatable structures we will need if we ever go anywere? We can’t build then and we can’t fly them. We don’t yet have the materials technology because we haven’t invested in the basic research for materials physics.

We should be able to make long-term life support systems where the only input is solar electricity and biowaste and the outputs are plentiful food and fresh water. As it stands now we are going to pack every scrap of food we take to Mars. It’s possible – whaling ships used to pack for multi-year voyages – but we will never have mastery over manned space exploration until we get a long-term self-sustaining calorie manufacturing unit perfected.

If we had flying cars today like the Jetsons – we couldn’t fly them in the hacked up gobbly-gook of a transportation system we are about to spend several billion dollars on that will be our next generation navigation system. So much for even being prepaired for having flying vehicles in every home.

The space station and the shuttle still have communications black-outs. I say again – we have insufficient infrastructure and we are on the virge of just counting coup again and getting no truly long-term benefits out of it.

Our so-called robots are over-rated too. We can make robots that drive around and take pictures but can’t make one that will fold clothes and do dishes – at any price. We are not on the cusp of anything – an abyss maybe – but that Kurzweil information singularity stuff is just made-up koolaid the intelligensia can believe in and kneel before and tell us all about rather than go do the real work. Like make the life-support machine – biomass and electricity in – food and water out. Or is that a farm? Do you really want to go all the way to Mars to farm? Yah sure, bring a couple of trees to grow in the inflatable dome but farm?

There was hunter-gathering, then agriculture, now what? I’m not a bit interested in going to Europa to set up a farm. Neither was Kirk, Picard, Archer, Cisco, Janeway, et.al.

I think we have some deep-seated agrarian wannabe past we can’t shed. Things were great when we had to get up at 4am to milk Nellie and plant the back 40. NOT! I am not having any part of going to another planet in this system or any other to be a farmer… where is that calorie machine? Almost 50 years after after the counting coup speech and we still don’t have the enabling technology.

Go to space young man or woman, but pack a lunch because that’s only as far as you can go. You Child.

Fund basic research. We’ve got the genome. But don’t have a clue about the expression of genes. Fund basic research.

Next time someone wants you to give money for titty cancer chase them away with a bat. Fund basic research. We don’t know how the body works when it’s working the way it’s supposed to – how the heck are we going to figure out cancer if we don’t have that basic knowledge?

Visualize the Mac-boy sitting on a rock naked in the desert of another planet with his iPhone. That’s the visual for the information singularity – we know everything – network everything – communicate better than the hive mind, but can’t do anything. Where’s that calorie machine and my solar cells and inflatable dome?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counting_coup

93. Harry Ballz - March 11, 2008

Everybody got that???

94. Your Good Friend - March 12, 2008

Dr. Steve, a most admirable effort, but from the standpoint of matching the highest aspirations of humanity, there is nothing to replace the human touch itself. Nothing — not even telepresence — would indicate with finality that the physical presence of humanity has a place among the stars.

There is the counterargument that logic would tell us that there is nothing so strange about the Moon that eventual human presence wouldn’t be possible — this, I acknowledge. But logic is not the ultimate proof that is required. Until mankind has actually ventured onto the surface of an extraterrestrial body, it would still be open to speculation that despite all our scientific reasoning, the Moon and all the planets might be unremittingly hostile to humanity. Today, at least, we can discount that possibility, and all this is thanks to that certain day in July, 1969, when the conclusion was decisively proved.

95. Hugo Fuchs - March 13, 2008

NASA needs to change. Explore Mars? Well that’s a great future goal, but our problems here need to be addressed first, or there won’t be a U.S. to fund NASA.

The moon project is the most economically feasible. Since the Russians want to mine hydrogen-3, we should also be looking to do the same. This is why to do it. Business. And those who buy the hydrogen-3 should foot alot of the bill. That’ll also help ease the energy problems. We really need a replacement for coal, and standard nuclear has its own problems, so everyone’s going to alter that. Of course, given the stupidity, or corruption in the government, I fully expect that the hydrogen-3 will be sold dirt cheap so the energy companies can make billions and the officials get their kickbacks. Lovely.

As for Mars and beyond, you’ll have to give me a better reason to fund for it in the NEAR future. We can’t even get our remote systems to consistently go there, never mind a manned ship. Then there is the bodily degredation of such a long trip. When someone comes up with a feasible plan, and a more feasible reason; we can consider it. We should be focusing on our enviromental and social problems and infrastructure for now. Space will still be waiting when we’re ready.

96. Closettrekker - March 13, 2008

#20—“The UFP is based on ALL countries of the world, ALL peoples, coming together for a common goal.”

Of course it is. That is Star Trek’s vision for the future. However, that “coming together” has only occured on a limited basis. Just as the Soviet “Sputnik” launch is now viewed, historically, as a landmark achievment for all mankind, so should any further achievments by the U.S. or anyone else.
It may be unfortunate that we are still divided by such things as national boundaries, the boundaries of alliances, political philosophy, etc., but it is what it is, and the competitive nature resulting from such differences is what drove the pioneering achievements in Space Exploration in the first place. Let’s keep a bit of perspective, and understand that we are still a long way away from the UFP.

97. Bob Holness - September 18, 2008

Obama did not say he was a fan, just that he had “grown up on Stark Trek”. This means either that he grew up on a diet of Star Trek episodes, or that he grew up on the set or described as one of the characters or that he thinks he grew up on a starship. Any which way he never said he was a fan: he could just as easily been forced to watch the episodes or have been a prisoner on the set.

98. Pat Kean - October 10, 2008

I have built a prototype coil gun type electric engine that is almost 20% efficient. With 16.4 Kilojoules of energy into the coils I get 5.4 pounds of thrust. The full up this engine’s design calls for 100 barrels, each firing minute particles of rare earth metal 5 times per second. The engine should produce about 4500 Lbs thrust using the electrical capacity of the International Space Station…

No answer from NASA despite sending the designs and video result of the prototype firing.

FYO: Based on a 560 metric ton modified space station and 54 tons of metal fuel for the engines this drive system could place the ISS into lunar orbit and return it to Earth orbit. Takes about 27 hours to attain escape velocity, about 6.7 hours to inject into Lunar orbit, return times and Earth orbit injection are similar.

Dealing with the Van Allen Belt requires shielding the crew critical electronics and solar panels.

How does this link to Star Trek?

Growing up I often wondered why a Phaser beam lashed out from the weapon to target instead of flashing across the entire distance in an instant like a Laser.

Several years ago an article appeared in Popular Science about using the element Hafinium 178-M2 as a “third type” of nuclear reaction to power aircraft, ships, etc. According to Livermoore one gram of the stuff could be “destabilized at the atomic level” to such an extent that when hit by a burst of soft X-Ray afterwards one gram could release up to the equivilant of 310Kg of TNT.

Turned out Hf can be magnetised.

Hence I designed a fictional weapon for a Star Trek story I have authored, but not published yet ,(waiting for you know who to allow it) with the acronyisim P recision Ha (the first two letters of Hafinium 178-M2) S elected E nergy R esponse: Phaser.

The weapon uses a combination of existing technologies: A C02 pellet gun to start the tiny projectile, a coil gun barrel to accelerate it more, a Radio Shack Baseball Radar Tracker to follow it to target and a modified dental X-Ray to set it off. The Hafinium projectiles are contained on a feeder spool mechanism that stores thousands of them. A 123 Systems Nanotech Batteries provide 700 watt/hr of power, capacitor discharge is built into the body of the weapon, maximum 3.6 Kilojoules.

Each projectile is about 1/50th of a gram and contains a small proportion of Hafinium. Atmospheric presence limits the range of the projectile and X-Ray to about 80 feet. Each projectile detonates with about 0.15 Kg of TNT force.

The gun’s onboard computer can detonate a projectile proximal to target (Stun) on target with two or more (Kill) or drill dozens into it (Vaporize). The fiction Phaser weapon was patented in 2016 in my story line, and weighs 8.5 lbs.

I built several coil guns afterwards and simulated the A 123 Batteries with an automotive battery of similar output, and several very nasty looking capacitors. Best velocity so far: 1100 feet per second using a barrel 18″ long. (Crossman Co2 pellet gun to hold 14 modified iron nail projectiles in clip form) I can fire 7 rapidly. Each firing cycle uses three coils out of six that cycle back and forth.

Future effort will adapt sewing machine parts and gears to feed a spool of much smaller projectiles into a adjusted barrel, reduced coil sizes, up to 16 coils, more compact electronics, SCR’s, and optical sensors. The idea is cut the mass of each projectile by a factor of at least ten but apply about 2/3rds of the energy to them as the originial version. (4 coil firing sequence shot) This should up terminal velocity considerably.

Note in my story Captain Sulu’s ship, Excelsior uses magnetic coil tech for thrusters and its impulse drive. Tiny metalic fuel projectiles are used. The engine is a direct result of working out what a Phaser could possibly be.

Nasa’s response to an engine that is already more efficient than its ION drive is typical bureaucratic response.

99. Mark Moskowitz - November 6, 2008

What change will Obama bring for anybody?

The only change Obama can do for us at the moment is dump the American stock exchange. What positives have come from the negatives it has brought?

A system that can’t improve itself from the negatives is worthless.

100. jean - November 7, 2008

Of course Barack Obama, as President, could be inspired by the United Federation of Planet’s (in fact, Roddenberry’s) philosophy of peace and respect of each other, not to mention the importance to follow, as much as possible, the Prime Directive.

101. Blog de Astronomia do astroPT » Obama e um novo programa espacial - May 9, 2009

[…] disse que cresceu com Star Trek e que acreditava na “final frontier”. Disse também que a NASA perdeu a inspiração e o fascínio que transmitia há umas décadas […]

102. nerd!!! « ATLmalcontent - May 19, 2009

[…] 19, 2009 by atlmalcontent By now you’ve heard the Obama as Spock meme. Obama says he is an old-school fan, though he’s already seen the new generation […]

103. Editorial: President Proposes Bold New Approach to Exploring the Final Frontier | Live Long and Propser - February 9, 2010

[…] 2008 Star Trek writer/producer and science advisor Andre Bormanis wrote an editorial here at TrekMovie about the presidential campaign and the future of NASA, advocating the Constellation program. […]

104. Opal Scholtz - April 21, 2011

At this time it looks like Movable Type is the best blogging platform out there right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

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