This week in Science Friday: What is the fate of the Spirit Rover? Is nuclear fusion becoming a reality? Does Obama want to cancel a return to the moon? Can you skydive from more than 100,000 feet? All these questions answered! Plus, check out our gadget of the week: NASA’s Puffin personal air vehicle.
Spirit Rover to Rove No More?
NASA has released a statement saying that Spirit, the Mars Exploration Rover, which has been exploring the red planet for the past six years, will be converted from rover to stationary science platform. The announcement comes after months of the rover being stuck in a particularly sandy region near the edge of a crater. If you’ve been following news on Spirit, you know that NASA has been working with engineers to try and get the rover mobile again, so what has changed now that they are declaring the rover “unextractable”? Actually, nothing. It seems that this press release could be a PR move to try and quell overly-optimistic hopes for remobilization of Spirit. In other words, rumors of her death have been grossly exaggerated. Currently, engineers are maneuvering (yes, as in moving) Spirit so that her solar cells can get enough sun to sustain her through the winter. When summer hits again, it is likely that NASA will try again to free her.
Spirit’s last tracks on Mars?
Is Fusion Becoming a Reality?
For over half a century, scientists have been trying to harness the power of nuclear fusion, a reaction that could generate massive amounts of energy. Recent results from experiments at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) suggest that creating such a reaction might be within our reach. The tests involved blasting a cylinder the size of a pencil eraser, known as “hohlraum,” with 192 laser beams and seeing whether researchers could tweak the energy to create the right kind of implosion. The research reported by NIF represents a step toward actual energy production in a controlled fusion reaction. But, there are still many steps to go before scientists reach that break-even point. Even if successful, the research will take years or decades to adapt for commercial use.
Tiny gold-plated “hohlraum” cylinder
No Moon in Obama’s Vision of Space?
With President Obama’s new budget set to be released Monday, all eyes in NASA are on the White House. The recently released Augustine Report (PDF) outlines experts’ recommendations to the president for the future of human space flight, among other things. Early reports from the White House suggest that the Obama administration may move toward relying on commercially-built spacecraft, rather than NASA’s own vehicles, to carry humans to low-Earth orbit. The plan would also involve extending the International Space Station’s lifetime and abandoning current plans to send astronauts on moon missions by 2020. This is certainly a paradigm shift in the way our country will go about its space program, and there are mixed feelings about the plan. But many believe this is a positive move for NASA. Sally K. Ride, a former astronaut who served on the blue-ribbon panel, said she was encouraged by the budget increase for NASA in light of the planned freeze on domestic spending over all. “They plan to be sending people beyond low-Earth orbit, and they have a good formulation,” Dr. Ride said. “I think the way to evaluate this plan when it’s rolled out is to ask whether the administration has given NASA the funds for what it’s asked to do.” “It appears to me the answer is yes,” Dr. Ride said, based on briefings she had received on the plans. She said the administration took options the panel presented and “came up with an innovative approach for NASA.”
We’re waiting for the details of Obama’s plan for space
Skydiver to Re-enact Trek-style Orbital Skydive
Back in 1960, then Air Force Col. Joe Kittinger set the world record for the highest-ever parachute jump from a balloon floating 102,800 feet above the ground. Ever since then, skydivers in search of glory have tried (unsuccessfully) to break that record. Now, Felix Baumgartner, who is already a professional skyjumper, is gearing up to make the attempt this year. And, he has the help of Kittinger himself, who is coaching him through the jump. Red Bull is sponsoring Felix to promote their energy drinks. Check out the video below for an interview with the orbital sky-diving duo.
Gadget of the Week: NASA’s Puffin Personal Air Vehicle
If NASA has anything to say about it, personal flight vehicles may become a reality. Researchers at NASA have developed the Puffin – a Personal Air Vehicle with enough room for one passenger that uses electric motor variable rpt to accomplish an order of magnitude reduction in noise. This vehicle could be automatically piloted for the everyday person to fly to work. Check it out in all its glory in the two videos below.
If you are on Twitter, you know there are plenty of amazing people out there tweeting away. And, many of them are scientists! Every Friday I’ll be bringing you a new list of great scientists and techies to follow on Twitter. This week…
- @whitehouseostp: Official Twitter account of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy http://www.ostp.gov
- @USGS: United States Geological Survey. (Official USGS account) Science for a changing world.
- @newscientist: New Scientist is the world’s only science and technology weekly
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a look.
- Neptune and Uranus may have liquid diamond
- Running barefoot better than running shoes
TrekMovie’s Science Friday is an homage the the great NPR radio show Science Friday. Science Friday® is a registered service mark of ScienceFriday Inc.
regarding the moon i just had a thought the other day when i was considering buying a telescope…why dosnt someone just point a powerful telescope at the area of the moon landings and all the hoax theories will disappear?
gotta get me a decent telescope though…a friend of mine whos got one says he even gets to see nebulas and the rings of saturn etc…while he was talking i started to get jealous and realised ive never actually seen Mars, saturn etc other than images on the net, books or tv
and here was this guy getting to look at the multara nebula in his back garden
@1 We’ve done that… sort of. No Earth-based telescope would be powerful enough. But, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, currently orbiting the moon, has been snapping lots of photos of Apollo landing sites:
You can even see the astronauts FOOTPRINTS!!
1. thats been done years ago. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/multimedia/lroimages/apollosites.html
@1 Also, even with a small 8” telescope (you can get one for fairly cheap) you can see Jupiter and its Galilean moons.
I think on the Skydiving there just trying to make the same jump that Kirk and Sulu and the Red shirt did. But with out the drilling platform and the beam cutting in the Earths core and forming a singlearity to destroy the Earth. Other then that pretty much the same.
We do not need to go back to the moon and waste American Tax Dollars. Washington never gets that we need the money to help it’s citizens, not to see if there is water on the moon.
Sorry #6, you are wrong, and what is even more disturbing is that we are basically giving up on the hopes of going to Mars.
This may basically be the end of the manned space flight program. We are going to use the Russians and private concerns to reach the Space Station, but that’s it. The job of Government is to do the things that couldn’t be done well by smaller branches of Government or Private Industry. Thats why the Federal Government is reponsible for the Armed Forces, and why you wouldn’t give that job to small private concerns. Space exploration is the same thing. We as a nation cannot entrust this job to buisnesses. Does anyone think that Boeing is going to design a Space Exploration Vehicle for Mars unless they KNOW that there is a return on the deal.
Many people I knew were so hopeful that when we sent Obama to the White House he was going to spend tons of money on the future of space flight. Instead we have wasted tons of money on lots of make busy work jobs and have turned our back on space exploration.
It’s a shame and a crime that this is happening.
Forget the moon or mars we need to perfect Nuclear Fuison. If we could figure that out, we would have an almost limitless source of electric power. We could build huge electrical destalination plans just imagin when we have drouts we can just take salt water and make it fresh water cheaply. Desterts could be made to grow crops. We wouldnt have to worry about coal or gas for electricity. We could even make our cars electric if we wanted. There would be an abundance of cheap electricity. IM ALL FOR FUSION!!
#6 we do need to go to the moon, and mars, and beyond to maintain our technical edge. We do not need to be handing out “free” money as “obama’s stash” to the drones who have their hands out. We need tax cuts to get the economy going again. It’s our money to begin with.
But Kayla the radio show i get beamed into my fillings, hosted by Big Foot, told me that the LRO is just part of the big conspiracy. Don’t fall for the big lie being perpetuated by the man!
There would be very positive economic benefits should the manned moon mission move forward. There is a potential for thousands of jobs related to the development and construction of new moon rockets and ships. The technology developed to make the mission possible would also have a long lasting impact on not only the economy but every day life. I fully support manned space flight.
“electrical destalination plans” – ? Right on. We don’ want no pinko commie Stalinism messin’ with our water.
No, we don’t NEED to go to the moon, or Mars, or any of that.
But….if Americans don’t, other countries will. What would you think about Communist China having a permanent settlement on the Moon? Think about…Red Chinese looking down on America from the Very Heavens themselves!
Or what if the first man on another planet was French? If the USA gives up on space exploration, that doesn’t mean the ESU is giving up. Think about it….the First Human on Another Planet could be…a SOCIALIST FRENCHMAN.
No American flags on the Moon or Mars. Just pinko commie Chinese and socialst French.
If the USA quits space exploration, and an alien civilization haps across our little solar system, and the Chines have a moon base, & the Europeans are on Mars, what do you think that’s say about who is and who is not the “Greatest Country In the World”?
Look….if OTHER countries have extraterrestrial facilities throughout the solar system, and the USA does not, then America has been outperformed and is not, by definition “The Greatest Country In the World”. Then it would be the Communist Chinese, or the Cheese-Eating Socialist French.
Is that what you want? The Commies & Socialists ruling Outer Space?
Are YOU a commie or a socialist? Are you FRENCH?
Why do you hate America?
Best. Post. EVER.
(I am sorta hungry for some cheese, though.)
I really hope that America can get to Moon and Mars, it would help boost the Technoglicial advances we are making and it would also give us real hope for the future. I understand that in this Econmic down turn that people get a little short sighted and think of Space Flight as a and extra rather then as something that can create Jobs and Help us to help this planet as well.
Solutions to Population overload, Global Warming and other things can be partially Solved by Maned Space Flight to other Worlds and starting to get all of our proverbial eggs called Mankind out of one Basket. the Best bet for Human Survival in the long run is to start making bases and Colonies on the Moon and Mars so if something like an Commet or Rock from or something else were to hit the population of earth we would not be wiped out as a Species!
There’s your “Change.” Enjoy it, folks…..
#6 Maned Space flight to the Moon or Mars will Create Jobs and new Technology and in the long run make us better off. Ending it now only severs Short term Problems not long term ones.
To Solve Problems on Earth, Space is the best to see from to help us conquer things like changing conditions on earth, Population Boom, Job growth and such.
America shouldn’t have to settle for Second Best for Space Flight or anything. We should try to expand out Horizons not lessen them because of problems that may have solutions just around the bend!
if a Rock from outer space hits and we are all stuck here can Humanity Survive? Sure but our Chances of Survival as a Species increase if we are not all stuck on Earth. Also America should be at the Forefront of things like this to get us out of the bad times we have now!
Sorry for the Multiple Post people, I am just a little Frustrated at the lack of foresight some people seem to have!
#16, I will gladly take that change if it means people like Burt Rutan and Richard Branson will get some of that money to develop the orbital vehicles Mr. Rutan is hinting at on his web site.
The government is notorious for being overcharged on it’s projects. What we need is something similar to the current commercial airline system with the goverment overseeing the companies to ensure that they are safely operated.
I can see private industry getting to the Moon by 2020 if they can get proper funds. And on a Star Trek note, in First Contact Cochrane was a private “contractor” and you can look at people like Burt Rutan who is the 21st century space version of the Wright brothers in real life.
I am completely saddened that Obama has come along and put a fork in pretty much the only good thing to come out of W’s 2nd term.
“Back in 1960, then Air Force Col. Joe Kittinger set the world record for the highest-ever parachute jump from a balloon floating 102,800 feet above the ground.”
What malarkey! We all know that Team Daedelus did it from 112, 000 feet in 1958.
Once fusion technology is harnessed, it will become as much a source of profiteering as a source of energy. I watch the way the current gas prices bounce around like a basketball, all because the oil companies are able to charge pretty much whatever they want. Some people have lost their homes, been out of jobs for over a year, but the price of gas (amongst other things) is unaffected. There is no compassion in oil, no compassion in big business, and no compassion in Washington… this is how it seems to me.
If those who “run” the country truly cared about the ordinary citizens they are supposed to represent, what would the country look like? I believe James Kirk said it best: “Absolute power, corrupting absolutely.”
There are rumors and reports running rampant about President Obama’s redirection of NASA. We’ll know the real deal on Monday, when NASA’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget is unveiled.
The best guess now is that NASA will be ordered to commercialize its operations as much as possible, particularly transport of crews to the International Space Station. NASA’s own Orion spacecraft will continue at a slower rate, with its “Space Station Ferry” role eliminated (or continuing only as a backup to commercial spacecraft) and its design aimed more squarely at deep space exploration (which will remain largely unfunded for the moment.) The President is in agreement with NASA and the European, Japanese, Russian and Canadian space agencies that the Space Station should be extended until at least 2020. But we can’t both extend Space Station and develop the deep space exploration program without a substantial budget increase for NASA, which is hugely unlikely given the US’s economic condition, Exploration will wait.
Given that commercial entities generally can do things at a fraction of the cost and time of government bureaucracies, I think this overhaul of NASA might be a very good thing, but the devil is in the details, and Congressional meddling poses a huge risk.
Meanwhile, fusion energy has been “20 years away from being practical” for about the last 60 years, so I’ll believe it when I see it.
Some sort of reflector was left on the moon. Someone with the right equipment can dial up the coordinates at any time and shoot off a beam and have it bounce back to them.
The guys on Mythbusters did a moon hoax episode, and that was one of the things they did to bust the myth that the landings were a hoax.
The moon landings were real. The Mars rovers life span was original a few months, and amazingly they are still going! Spirit has two broken wheels, but Opportunity is still hustling along.
I regret the possible change of course on the moon missions, as I see no point in the International Space Station. However, NASA should be collaborating with all other space programs in the world on the moon missions. However, in this economy, it’s difficult to sell such expenditures, and frankly, the problem is that NASA nor it’s corporate ever seem to keep anything on budget or on time.
“hohlraum” – love it XD
#6 – Many people don’t get that when we spend money on moon or other space missions that we actually spend that money here, on Earth. The money doesn’t go up into space. You can cry about billions being spent on space missions, but the money, jobs and technical advances all stay right here on the same planet that you are rightfully worried about.
Bottom line, money spent on NASA helps the economy just as much as money spent on highways, bridges, agriculture, etc. Plus, we advance our technical skills and inspire people to dream and do better things with their lives and their planet.
P Technobabble, gas and oil in general answer to the basic laws of supply and demand just like any other commodity.
The unique quality of oil is that OPEC controls how much oil is pumped and therefore artificially affects the price of a barrel of oil to a degree.
If the US would tell the environmental lobby to take a chill pill and start extracting their own oil domestically, then OPEC would no longer be an issue, more jobs would be created, and the price of gas and oil would drop in America quite noticeably, I would suspect.
And I hate how they’re planning on canceling the moon shot and mars shot and possibly re-directing that money to more global warming research. If I hear this president say “green jobs” one more time, I’m gonna pop a blood vessel.
If there is real money in “green jobs,” the free market will support them. Right now, it takes twice the life-span of a solar panel to generate enough electricity to break even on the cost of buying one! That has to change before a “green” economy has any chance of rivaling fossil fuels as the top energy source.
To #13. Not too worried about aliens coming to earth anyway. They’ve probably already received the “historical documents” from earth and are high tailing it back to their own planet.
Remember a year ago when the main stream press more or less implied that Obama was going to move us towards a glorious Star Trek future, and how wonderfully Spock like he was. “We are all trekkers now.” (Newsweek) Well, that future is for now…. dead.
#6: “We do not need to go back to the moon and waste American Tax Dollars [sic]. Washington never gets that we need the money to help it’s [sic] citizens, not to see if there is water on the moon.”
I think your opinion is far too limited and vastly underestimates the degree NASA has played in our lives.
Space exploration, my friend, is NEVER a waste of money. A huge segment of today’s world has benefitted from the technology developed from the space program. It is rather short-sighted if anyone thinks that money spent on the space program would have done as much for our people if spent elsewhere.
Medicines, metal alloys, plastics, communications, computer technology (which plays part in every single aspect of our lives) have all advanced immensely because of NASA and its subsidiary and contributing industries.
Science today would not be where it is without the monies pumped into the space program!
Finding water on the our lunar body was a good thing. It surely means that if we were to set up a moonbase that water as well as other elements could be extracted from the Moon, a natural source, rather than having to ship it all up there.
It seems this is a mute point for now since it seems likely the Obama Administration is not so keen on returning to the moon.
I’ve mixed emotions about this. I think a return to the moon was a step backwards for NASA, but by the same token, utilizing the moon as a launch platform to the outer planets would be far easier, and less expensive, than from Earth.
Considering that the annual NASA budget is $18 billion per annum, and the US spends on average $27 billion on pizza each year… I think it is a damn shame for Obumbler to canx the Moon (and Mars).
NASA get’s .6% of the US national budget each year and now as a second stimulus hangs int he air to create jobs–and high-tech jobs at that–one of the most technically advanced job creators in history is about to be sliced to bits. This will kill economies in NASA centered locations, including my home town… where the Space Shuttle launches from. This decision could very well mean NO astronaut corps, NO continued exploration beyond low Earth orbit (for the US), relying on Russia to get us back and forth–while we do what they say and kiss their arse.
In 10 years, my little boys are going to be looking for what they want to do in the world, and I am sad to say that they won’t be able to say “I want to be an Astronaut” because that likely won’t exist any more.
I’m all for commercial enterprise getting in to the space industry, however the US needs to maintain a national manned space program in order to further our reach into space and provide the advancements for science and technology. Were it not for the space program, we wouldn’t have cell phones, GPS, satellite TV, microprocessor technology like we have it today, even cordless drills, composite materials, not to mention medical telemetry and other medical equipment technology that helps save lives everyday. If the US wants to stay competitive in the high-tech world and be leaders, we NEED the space program and human space flight. We can’t get by just with a few video games and American-frakking-Idol!
Where I work, we have students come through and we teach them about the space program–past, present, and future–and it is so sad when in the middle of the program, students are astonished to hear we went to the Moon, or that we actually put people in space. Some are so consumed with their texting, or their Ipods, etc, they are oblivious to the world. It takes the space program and its contributions to bring science back to the forefront if we want to have any kind of future for our nation.
And lastly, NASA doesn’t need to get involved with global climate BS, that is what NOAA is for. Stupid Obumbler.
End of angered ranting.
#35: While I agree with most of your points, calling our President childish names is certainly not a mature tact for a rant, even an angry one.
35… “And lastly, NASA doesn’t need to get involved with global climate BS, that is what NOAA is for. Stupid Obumbler.”
From the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 which established NASA and tasked it with its mission…
(d) The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives:
(1) The expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;
TITLE IV–UPPER ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH
PURPOSE AND POLICY
Sec. 401. (a) The purpose of this title is to authorize and direct the Administration to develop and carry out a comprehensive program of research, technology, and monitoring of the phenomena of the upper atmosphere so as to provide for an understanding of and to maintain the chemical and physical integrity of the Earth’s upper atmosphere.
(b) The Congress declares that is the policy of the United States to undertake an immediate and appropriate research, technology, and monitoring program that will provide for understanding the physics and chemistry of the Earth’s upper atmosphere.
Other figures: In the 2007 US federal budget, the funding for social programs (calculated here as the budgets for the Department of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, Social Security, Agriculture, and Labor) adds up to a whopping $1.581 trillion. For every $1 the federal government spends on NASA, it spends $98 on social programs. In other words, if we cut spending on social programs by a mere one percent, we could very nearly double NASA’s budget.
In contrast, NASA’s allocation during the mid-1960s when, despite the pressures of the war effort in Vietnam and President Johnson’s Great Society programs, NASA spending made up more than five percent of the federal budget, and we got to the Moon.
If the Obumblenator truly had the US’s best interests in mind and wanted to maintain our technological superiority… creating more and more high-tech jobs and spurring the economy, he would take part of that stimulus cash and put it in to NASA to keep Constellation–or some variant like the Direct Launcher–and get us to the Moon, and Mars. His unwillingness to do so after spending $180 billion on AIG alone (nearly 10x NASA’s budget), says he is a POS that needs to get a pink slip in 2012. I hope Congress fights him in this, it seems they are gearing up to do so already.
Yes We Can!
……umm…..wait….ok…..no we can’t.
37. Pont taken; I will stand corrected with those points, however I will modify my statement to reflect that NASA’s sole purpose should not be global climate change…research and science of course, along with NOAA and other agencies, but if you’re going to allocate a little more money to NASA which is what it seems, it should be set for the primary mission–spaceflight.
36. You are right, I shouldn’t allow my emotions to get the better of me, however I am seeing so much insanity coming about now… plus, when the Shuttle ends, and there is nothing to take its place… my home town, and everything here quite possibly will fade away… I am concerned for my family, my community, as well as my country.
33… ” Well, that future is for now…. dead.”
It might be, but it is far too soon to say that. The facts are that the Program of Record (Constellation, with Ares rockets and Orion spacecraft) required several billion more dollars per year between now and 2020 to be carried out (determined by the Augustine Commission), and there was virtually no chance of that funding materializing. A change was absolutely necessary. Getting NASA out of the ‘daily grind’ of sending people to and from the Space Station is not necessarily a bad idea. There are private companies that can (or so they say) and want to do that job. If commerce can provide a service, why is government doing it? Leave the job to private industry and let NASA concentrate its resources on actual exploration (as well as engineering development for life support systems, radiation protection, etc., on the Space Station.)
Well, hopefully NASA will get what it needs but the Obama Administration will have a hard time justifying a large increase in their budget in today’s economy and all the fire he’s already getting for the government’s current spending habits.
38, the whole reason the government funded NASA the way it did but in the 1960s was because of competition with the Soviet Union. We simply couldn’t allow the “godless commies” beat us in anything. Without that competition, no one really cares about NASA or space exploration. It is unfortunate, but true.
42. in a nutshell.. China
43, yes, indeed people have been saying that competition in space now comes from China. Public opinion doesn’t seem to share that opinion, nor does the government. Therefore, there is no political will to fund NASA like they did during the Cold War.
43… That’s so very 20th Century. I hope we don’t get caught up in ruinous “get their firstest with the mostest” mentality of a space race against China. The space race against Russia left us with an enormously expensive architecture built on the principle of “waste anything but time” that was unsustainable once the goal was achieved. $80 billion worth of Apollo and Saturn design and hardware was thrown away after less than eight years of service. Note that Saturn was so expensive that not even the military could afford it (they bought Titan III instead.) Part of NASA’s new plan was another Saturn V rocket (this time called Ares V) that would be so expensive there was little hope of flying it more than once or twice a year (and President Obama has evidently pulled the plug on it, although NASA had been rethinking it already.)
Wouldn’t it be smarter and a wiser investment to let commercial operators do the grunt work and leave the difficult, expensive and risky moon, Mars, asteroid, or other deep space missions to NASA? Competition for this grunt work (cargo delivery to the Space Station, then crews to the Space Station and later perhaps fuel to an orbiting propellant depot — negating the need for another Saturn V) would almost certainly drive costs down and foster improved designs and creative solutions to technical challenges, benefiting all of the space industry and not just NASA.
Government-sponsored air mail caused a revolution in aircraft development in the 1920s and 30s and largely created today’s airline industry. Something like it could well create a revolution in space. It’s worth a try. If it doesn’t pan out, we can always go back to building government manned spacecraft and large government rockets in 2020, probably based on today’s Atlas and Delta rockets. But if it does pan out, we’ll wonder why we ever messed around with bureaucratic monster rockets in the first place.
I was thinking, anyone else here at Trekmovie want to start a company whose mission is to use government money to fly it’s citizen’s to the moon?
Its a shame that countries choose to put billions and billions into fighting wars and destroying countries. Imagine all that money put into eliminating poverty as well as exploring space. We’d be a lot further along I bet. New space shuttles. Manned missions to the moon and Mars.
Hopefully one day corporations and governments from around the world can co-operate to achieve great things such as the elimination of poverty and the exploration of deep space.
#40: “You are right, I shouldn’t allow my emotions to get the better of me, however I am seeing so much insanity coming about now… plus, when the Shuttle ends, and there is nothing to take its place… my home town, and everything here quite possibly will fade away… I am concerned for my family, my community, as well as my country.”
The Shuttle program’s fate was sealed long before President Obama took office. Yeah, I am sad to see it go… Very sad. I am sad that NASA has not… nor has Congress, commissioned a new vehicle for which to replace her with. Let’s face it the shuttles are 20+ years old.
It was their time to go, and it is time to design a new shutte, based on 21st century technology. We need a heavy lift vehicle to go to the Space Station, or are we going to let it die too?
If blame is to be placed, let’s give it where it is due. Neither our American public or Congress has supported the space program in the same fashion since the Apollo days. Other than the Hubble telescope and our probes, NASA has not offered any big programs, and why is this? Because we the public haven’t demanded it!
Some other posts want to add fear-mongering to the equation (if we don’t do it,China will).
Have we not gotten beyond such nationalistic sensations? How about NASA work jointly with China, Japan and India (all who are working on their own space programs), just like we have done with Russia and the European Union? Is there any reason why we must do this all by ourselves?
Oh dear God. Cutting themselves out of the space race to make a totally pointless flying vehicle for one person.
“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good”. Well, I do NOT lack a better word, and that word is PROFIT. Sorry to sound like a Ferengi, but profit IS good. It is the primary and founding motive principle in Capitialism and it is what has brought the greatest and most beneficial products, services and technology in the history of the human race. Pure altruism, my friend does not exist.
Remove the profit motive and you would have a tightly centralized and controlled authoritarian society much like the USSR was or Nazi Germany, or to a lesser degree – Obama’s America. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)
Hell, even the Red Chinese know that they had to incorporate capitalism into their ideology or end up the way of the North Koreans… stagnant and dying.
If you think there is no compassion in Capitalism you’re wrong. It is the most compassionate of all socio/economic systems.