Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Enough Already!

If it wasn't so tragic it would be comical. The space shuttle Discovery returned to space last week after a 2 1/2 year break, and its crew is now performing a series of repairs to ensure its safe return. And the shuttle program is back on hold again. Maybe some sharp legislators will start to see this ridiculous program for the sham it is and call for its merciful end. As John Tierney points out in a recent column, while space exploration may be a noble cause, the shuttle program is not exploring. The whole purpose of the program seems to be getting the thing safely up and down, and performing what he calls "high school science experiments". The technology is outdated, hopelessly complex (requiring a complex bureaucracy to run it), and seems to have no other purpose than to supply the Internation Space Station (and the ISS seems to exist solely as a destination for the shuttle). It flies a fraction of the times it was designed to, and costs 30-50 times more per flight projected. It seems to be NASA's PR tool to keep the funding coming. The US has not had manned space flight beyond LEO (low earth orbit) since the early '70s and the end of the Apollo program. Lets take the opportunity to put this suffering beast out of its misery, and focus on real space exploration. The only ones who won't benefit are the contractors making billions off this useless and dangerous project.

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