Space Shuttle Program Nears End

I’m old enough to remember when Skylab died a fiery death over the Pacific Ocean.  July 11, 1979.  The clippings were on my bedroom wall for years.  Not long before this Viking had landed on Mars and sent back the first pictures ever seen from the surface of another planet.  While all this was occurring there were rumblings of an ambitious “space plane”.  I still have early artist renderings of this highly anticipated program.  It was a time when the future was exciting and full of optimism.  When the “Enterprise” was rolled out on September 17, 1976 that optimism was reaching new highs.  Knowing Enterprise was out there made Skylab’s loss more bearable.  Now after thirty years the great “space plane” program is ending this year without a replacement in sight.

NASA’s Constellation Program was the next planned step but it appears that this program will not fully manifest.  Even if it had it would have been five years until it carried it’s first passengers into space.  For the first time in almost 50 years the United States has no definite plans in place for manned space exploration.

While I am a great supporter of the idea of commercial space flight I am also afraid that depending on it as a primary means is a dangerous mistake.  Space exploration will inevitably become space colonization and commercialization.  It is also likely that my grandchildren will occupy a society that depends upon the resources and economic stimulation space faring will provide.  That said, who controls that industry will control the world.  Position commercial interests ahead of government interests and the government will find itself being handed it’s hat.  Conservative minded agendas might find this preferable as they constantly rant against big government.  This always amazes me because the alternative is to hand over control to corporations?  You can’t vote for a corporation.  Government is as close as the masses will ever get to controlling society or human destiny.  Government IS the people.

I also understand that the world economy is unstable and this means that the billions needed for space flight is hard to justify.  I don’t blame the Obama Administration for seeking ways to save money. However I am concerned about it’s stance on commercialization being the answer.  If corporations and big money get their hooks into space travel it would be very difficult to impossible to get that control back.  Many people can’t comprehend this danger.  Space is unregulated and full of resources.  Even if government imposes regulation of some kind it will not have the means to enforce them without major conflicts of interest.   Corruption will breed unchecked for generations.  President Obama today stated that a government take over of the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico would be impractical because the federal government does not have the superior technology necessary to do so.  If this is not a case and point of what will happen if corporations dominate space travel I don’t know what is.

About John

John Kinane is a resident of Hilton, New York, a suburb of Rochester, New York. A former middle school band director and music teacher, John changed direction into technology and web and multimedia programming. He holds a Bachelors degree from the Crane School of Music and a Masters degree from Nazareth College of Rochester. Interests include percussion, drum and bugle corps, progressive politics, astronomy, web programming and raising three great kids.