Total Peace Man – or maybe its just something I smoked
One of the impacts of the Global Warming industry, the ending of the Cold War, and the spending of the Peace Dividend (if you don’t believe that total world peace broke out in 1991 you must be listening to the wrong spin doctors) is that mankind started taking several big steps backwards.
The Space Shuttle Columbia breaks up over Texas
The United States failed to invest adequately in development of space technology and in new manned exploration. That resulted in the Space Shuttle continuing on past its ‘Use by’ date and caulking up two tragic disasters that cost the lives of two crews. Disasters happen at the edge of technology but risks are reduced by rolling the programme forwards and updating older technology.
Without Russian cargo rockets and space capsules, the Shuttle disaster would have closed the International Space Station project. As it is the loss of Space Shuttle missions has delayed this co-operative space exploration project
It also made the US reliant heavily on Russian launch vehicles to maintain supplies to the International Space Station during the periods when the Space Shuttle fleet was grounded.
In Europe, a step backward was taken when that beautiful aircraft, the Anglo-French Concorde, was removed from airline service and consigned to museums. Concorde was the only successful SST ever to fly, carrying passengers on scheduled and charter flights around the world at twice the speed of sound.
Its as if the DC3 had been scrapped in 1945 and replaced by the Vickers Vimmy biplane
So you may ask – “So what?”
Concorde should have provided a stepping stone
The two events are linked and form part of man’s evolution. Concorde not only carried the rich and the privileged across the Atlantic fast enough to make New York a day trip from London, but it extended our knowledge and engineering skills. It was one more step in an extra ordinary voyage. Had Concorde become the standard by which airlines were measured on long distance routes, this beautiful but cramped airliner would have been followed by larger and more sophisticated vehicles that would have taken flying to the periphery of space and then been developed further to create space planes that would service orbiting Space Ports, from which passengers would travel on through the solar system, and beyond, in deep-space ships. As it was, Concorde soldiered on without a mid-life update and that resulted in the only fatal Concorde crash, blemishing an otherwise remarkable success story.
White Kinght has developed without Government control and funding
Two generations beyond Concorde have yet to be built although the Virgin Space Plane could claim to be an innovative private initiative that is producing a very small commercial space plane, with very limited endurance.
A small step for mankind, a giant leap for the Presidential Library
In the US, NASA has been starved of funds and the United States has lost what was a huge lead over other countries. It is welcoming that President Bush has announced a new phase in US space exploration, even if it may have more to do with salvaging a legacy for his Presidency from the mire of Iraq.
So why is space exploration important?
If the Global Warmers are to be believed (and many are becoming fundamentalist converts to this new religion), man-made pollution will destroy the Earth in the next hundred years. We have a straight choice of moving the deck chairs on the Titanic, or just beating our breasts as the planet dies, or doing something constructive, like minimizing the consequences of climate change and making sure we have a lifeboat.
Evolve or Die
Even if we don’t believe the Global Warmers, we know that the Earth will cease to exist sometime in the next six billion years and will be uninhabitable some time before that. That sounds like a very long time but, ‘time flies when you are having fun.’ The quicker we develop new technologies, the more likely we are to survive as a species.
Then there is our natural drive to expand into new frontiers. That’s not just a human imperative but applies to every other species. It’s a natural mechanism to preserve species against the possibility of an existing environment failing. In the process it evolves new variations on existing species that can exploit a new-found environment. We have just short-circuited the process by developing tools that enable us to survive in new environments without having to take millennia to evolve physically.
GPS navigation and the Internet are direct products of the aerospace industry
We also forget at our peril just how much direct short-term benefit has come out of the space industry even with one hand tied by budget constrictions. The development of computers and communications technology has depended on the needs and funding of military and space agencies. Much of the artefacts that we now take completely for granted only exist because of that great technology race