30 years and out; the space shuttle’s years of service has come to an end.
The original price tag was $90 billion; the final cost was $196 billion. ..
More than double the proposed cost!
The late Carl Sagan complained many times that the space shuttle program diverted billions away from real scientific exploration of space which left the J.P.L. to run on a shoe string budget.
Our reaction to Sputnik is part of the template that saddens me to my very core! If we do the right thing it is usually for the wrong reasons. Wars, both hot and “cold” spark us into action; the vast and endless wonder of space itself should have edged us off this planet alone without the blood shed in the background.
The first military Shuttle mission was launched from Pad 39A at 1500Z on 27 June 1982. Military space missions also accounted for part or all of 14 out of 37 Shuttle flights launched from the Cape between August 1984 and July 1992. While many details of those missions are not releasable, some features of Shuttle payload ground processing operations and range support requirements can be summarized for what might be termed a “typical” military space mission.
14 out of 37 missions were for the military; a little under half of the shuttles missions served to militarize space. In the beginning I had such high hopes for the shuttle program. It was sold as the work horse that would build and maintain major space platforms that would eventually link us to the stars. It would seem they (shuttle missions) played a substantial part in keeping our Uncle Sam’s global corporate boot on the necks of countless little brown, yellow and Pinko-white people in the USSR for so long around this planet. Satellite guided missiles could be delivered to the dinner table of anyone who tried to opt out of the free market!
But, enough of my incoherent babbling; allow brother Gil Scott-Heron to grove you with his poetry.
Near the end of the recital Gil looks up at the Astronaut dummy hanging over his head and offers to send his medical bills up to him.
Years ago on PBS I had the pleasure of seeing a debate between Maya Angelou and Isaac Asimov; the subject was “space travel.” Asimov made his case for space travel based on the technologically possible; while Angelou explored the over all effects on the many. Asimov immersed himself is in swinging humanity’s technological penis; Angelou put forth parallel deployment of the glory and wonders of space exploration and the compassion in improving the human condition.
Billions of dollars so a few privileged white guys could “strut” around on the moon, pick up a few rocks, hit a golf ball and mark their territory (plant a flag)! Was it worth it?