Tuesday, August 25, 2009

August 25, 2009

          Are we going back to the moon?  Not soon.      The New York Times reports today--just forty years and a month after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on its surface--that no one else will follow them anytime soon.  "Little chance" of repeating their walk on its 50th anniversary, the paper says, and "maybe not even by the 60th."       NASA plans to retire the space shuttles by September 2010 and use Russian rockets to get to the International Space Station until a new rocket, the Ares I, is ready in 2015.  It would retire the space station in 2016 and develop a bigger rocket, the Ares V, to get to the moon.  That's based on a plan President George W. Bush proposed in 2004.  Trouble is, Mr. Bush never asked Congress for as much money as the plan called for, and Congress never added it either.      And President Obama's budget outlined further cuts in 2011 and the years beyond.  A panel Obama appointed found that the moon plan was not "executable."      Does it matter?  The Times report quotes one pro-space advocate as saying  a lot of people care a little about space, but it's only a key issue for a few.  I suspect that's about right.  I mean, if you look at poverty and hunger around the world, if you look at the money our schools need here at home, where should space be on our list?  It's not first on mine, that's for sure, though as a reporter who covered those first flights from NASA's Manned Space Center outside Houston, it was exciting.      Oh, well.  Time to reread Ray Bradbury's "Martian Chronicles" maybe, and imagine what it might have been like. 
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