Saturday, October 23, 2021

Repeating tthe Past

I am 78 years old, so perhaps my perspective is a little more long term than today’s space travel enthusiasts, who are wildly excited that some rich guy got to ride weightless in orbit for ten minutes.

I recall when the US space program was able to put Alan Shepard into a weightless orbit on the edge of space in 1961, no less than sixty years ago and half again longer than this “adventure.”

What are we doing? Who are we, to be celebrating that we have regained the ability to do something that we first did more than half a century ago?

We have a little vehicle driving around on Mars, but we did that in 1997, almost 25 years ago.  We are planning to land an unmanned rocket on the Moon, but China did that last year, and we first did it in 1970, again, more than fifty years ago. We are still not even planning a manned mission to the Moon, something we first accomplished 52 years ago and are not presently capable of doing.

We are excited as all get out about repeating “exploration” of fifty years ago, but what are we doing (and by that I mean doing, not just talking about) that is actually new or ground breaking?

1 comment:

  1. Nobody I know is excited by the suborbital space rides. They're just expensive fairground rides for the ultra-rich, getting a lot of free advertising on the news networks.

    I do think the rovers are cool, though -- both intrinsically and the geology (I guess we need to call that something else!) and other things they are doing. Let me turn your question around: what did the manned missions fifty years ago accomplish that the rovers are not doing now? (except cost a lot and jeapordise the lives of the astronauts!)