45 years ago, apollo 11 left launch Pad A, at the Kennedy Space Center, to embark on a 4 day journey to the moon. Thus doing so, America was winning the Space race.
In all seriousness, though, this still blows my mind. Especially since we now have vastly more computing power on a high school robot than all of NASA back in '69, yet we can’t get humans beyond LEO.
It’s not that we can’t, we just choose not to. Just as we chose to go to the moon. I understand the romance of sending humans to different places, but what will we actually gain by sending people, rather than robots, to Mars? I know I sound like one of THOSE guys. I used to want to be an astronaut. That’s why I got my degree where I did, but now I’m not seeing the practical purpose anymore.
Here is an interesting perspective: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlGemHL5vLY
An awesome video.
I do agree that NASA doesn’t need to suddenly start sending manned missions to Mars, but they could be working, like SpaceX, to find better ways to put satellites into orbit. SpaceX is a private company. They’d only do this if there was money to be made eventually.
That being said, sending people into space is way cooler. We pay Russia a bunch of money every time we send a guy up to the ISS. It’s be pretty neat if it worked the other way. I’m not saying they’d make money, but we’d hear a lot more about space.
Currently, most Americans contribute less than $9 per year to NASA with their federal income tax. That’s less than a pack of cigarettes (in NY).
Like I said, I understand the romance of sending humans past LEO. I just disagree with NDT. The times now are radically different than in the 1960s. We were at odds with Russia and felt we needed to assert our dominance over them. The difference now is that nobody else is even trying to go. The competition fueled the public support NASA had in the 1960s and that just simply doesn’t exist today. And unfortunately, even if there was a competitor out there looking to go to Mars, we might have some support. However, given the current state of sentiments in Washington DC, the priorities simply aren’t in line with sending humans on deep space missions. I would absolutely love to see humans on Mars, but I don’t see it happening for a very, very long time. Who knows? Perhaps one day we as a people will set aside our differences and partner with other nations to achieve the goal. But for the time being, it’s not happening. Not because we don’t have the technology or know-how, but because we don’t have the ambition.
I agree with just about everything that you are saying, but I am coming to a different conclusion. I agree that beating Russia was the motivation for almost everything we did with space exploration in the 60’s and 70’s but I think that the positive impacts, like those that NDT frequently discusses, of that effort occurred independently of the motivation for the US government to spend all of the money that it did on NASA, meaning that we would reap the same benefits today. I also completely agree that the only reason that our progress in space exploration dropped off is not that we lack the technology to keep progressing, but is rather that, in the absence of the Russian threat, we as a nation lack the ambition to continue. Where I disagree with you, regardless of the likelihood of getting more funding for NASA in the current political climate, is how you said that we wouldn’t gain anything substantial by sending people rather than robots beyond LEO to places like Mars.
Also, remember that traveling deeper into space has other challenges that haven’t been solved yet. Mainly, how do you stop radiation that causes cancer on prolonged missions as well as muscle mass degrading. We COULD go past LEO, but the risks to the astronauts are much too high at this point.
Apollo 11 live tweet: https://twitter.com/astvintagespace.
45 years ago, the eagle landed onto the moon.
… and today they lifted off from the moon to dock with the command module.
Here is a great site for reliving the landing.
I vividly remember staying up late with my parents to watch the astronauts walk on the moon. (And wondering why my siblings didn’t stay up! Maybe no coincidence I was the only one who went on to a STEM career).
Picture what it was like. We were watching video LIVE FROM THE MOON. This was in the transistor radio era, before internet, video tapes, VCRs, digital anything. And this was LIVE FROM THE MOON. I still get shivers thinking about it.
My favorite part about the broadcast is that it essentially came from a video camera pointed at a 10" screen because NASA didn’t have proper equipment to convert the SSTV video to NTSC format…then [not so promptly] lost the original tapes with the original video signal.