The only contribution I would make in regards to "Go Somewhere" would be to encourage NASA to "take us with them." With today's technology, the cameras needed to provide the public with state-of the-art real-time images of a Mars mission would not occupy much space or add much physical weight, but the "PR" would be tremendous in terms of igniting worldwide interest and support.
I'm old enough to remember the lunar landing, and the worldwide focus on that mission. It was the only time in my life I witnessed the world united in harmony on any one thing. I actually felt like a member of the human race, instead of a citizen of one country.
If NASA is reluctant to carry the mission live for fear of something going wrong, they should remember how the world reacted to Apollo 13. I have always felt that our success in the "moon race" was because our program was open to the world while Russia's was held in secret. There is a lot of "power" in six billion people focused on the same thing.
I am a physics/chemistry instructor in Wisconsin. After reading your comments and the article by Dawn Stover, I have to say but one thing - "Hallelujah!" It is about time that someone discusses the future of NASA and gives them a long needed push. I too grew up during the dawn of the space age, and was awe struck by that magical period. As a matter of fact, those "small steps" forged a generation of engineers and problems solvers. Regretfully, those inspiring days have gone by the wayside.
As a science instructor, I feel it is my duty to inspire our nation's future, and in my own small way help to revive the space program. With this motivation in mind, I wrote a series of workbooks on orbital mechanics called "Spaceflight Fundamentals." These books are written at a high school / college level to allow students of various backgrounds to enjoy and understand the elegance of space travel from a mathematical, scientific, and simulated angle. I hope to inspire students to surpass their goals and find the universe to have limitless possibilities. My work was developed over a span of eight years. While researching this material, I completed my masters in physics and worked as an educational facilitator for NASA at one of their research centers. Since completing this workbook series, I have taught workshops and seminars on this material to "get the
New London, WI
As deputy executive officer of the American Astronomical Society, I have to say I disagree with the fundamental premise that NASA as a whole is off track. I am further disappointed that the article did not point out NASA's fantastic successes in the areas of astronomy and space science.
NASA is much more than just Human Space Flight. Much of what we have learned about the Universe and our own small corner of it stems from the efforts of NASA's Office of Space Science. NASA's Office of Space Science has reduced costs for missions, increased the number of mission launches and supported the scientific research community. The office of Space Science supports astronomers and space scientists who are trying to answer such fundamental questions as "How did the universe begin and evolve?" "How did we get here?" " Where are we going?" "Are we alone?"
Human presence in space is not the only reason NASA exists. I hope that Popular Science will in the future highlight what I feel is most exciting about NASA's work: the study of the Universe in which we live.
Kevin B. Marvel
Forty years ago I asked uncle, who worked on rocket engines for the Hercules Corporation, what benefit common folks received from the space program. He replied with about 15 different technologies ranging from clothing dye to high-tech fiberglass. I think NASA needs to do a better job informing people about the technological spin-offs of the space program, such as fuel cells, GPS systems, and carbon fiber materials. If they explain how each of us benefits from an active space industry, the money will pour in to support it.
"Go Somewhere" represents an attempt by a few people to get taxpayers to fund a grand scientific adventure for the 21st century. NASA's "midlife crisis" began when its goals lost their relationship to the responsibilities of the US government, which are courts, the police and national defense. Even a much expanded view of the government's role would fail to include trips to Mars.
A mission to Mars cannot be justified on any level to any reasonable person (I hope this includes Sean O'Keefe, the new NASA Administrator.) The United States has an obligation to complete the International Space Station, build a new generation shuttle for the space station, and promote national security, but in no way should we send astronauts to Mars.
Ralph C. Edwards
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