With the landing of the Space Shuttle Endeavor, the STS134 mission was brought to conclusion, having achieved all objects without incident. As the wheels touched yesterday, the Space Shuttle program was almost at an end. Only one more mission, STS135, has been authorized and funded, using the last operational shuttle Atlantis.
President Hussein Obama has introduced to US politics the concept of “Managed Decline”, copying the policies introduced in Britain by Prime Minister Atlee in 1946. The concept assumes that an Empire has reached the end of its shelf life and must be demoted under a managed program. President Obama sees the eclipse of the US during the next three years by China and India. With the race having started for the next US Presidential election, which Obama hopes will see him re-elected to conclude his Managed Decline program, it remains to be seen who the next president will be and how that President will respond to Obama’s defeatist policies.
Although yet to announce, Sarah Palin shows every sign of starting out on the race with her coach tour of famous US landmarks. Palin is much shrewder than she has been given credit and the shrill anger against her by the US political elite is a fair indication that they see Palin as a major threat to their Republican and Democrat candidates.
The US space program is heavily dependent on the outcome of the next Presidential elections. Although Obama has started the first steps to removing this program and concentrating on a national socialist New Medicare program, taking the US away from its democratic roots, he needs a second term to really seriously damage America. The Blair Brown Regime took 13 years to bring Britain to the brink of bankruptcy. It seems certain that Hussein Obama will stand for re-election, it is less likely that Palin will win Republican nomination, although, if she does not, there is always a possibility that she will run as Tea Party/independent candidate. Freed from the shackles of the Washington Republican/Democrat mafia, Palin could introduce some very original policies. The problem right now is that we don’t know what those policies might be and she would be stupid to tell us today when she needs to keep her powder dry. The only certainty is that the Washington mafia will try anything to discredit her however big the lie has to be.
Today, the future for NASA and US space aspirations looks very bleak after a chequered 65 year history, starting with the assembly of a team of German scientists and war criminals to create a rocket and space program from the ashes of German defeat. US politicians have never consistently supported the program and political will was only really applied when the Russians launched the first satellite and followed with the first human space flight and orbit of the Earth. That resulted in a huge effort to overtake the Russians and land the first men on the Moon. As soon as those objectives were achieved, the US began to relax and it was something of a political miracle that the Space Shuttle program survived.
What can now be seen is that the political will was not there to build a second generation Shuttle, more orbiting space stations, and set out for Mars and beyond. By the end of the Twentieth Century the US should have begun the first flights of a Shuttle successor, a truly re-usable spacecraft.
In fact, they are returning to the concept of the Appolo program with a relatively small conical space capsule and lander.
The British Royal Naval Air Service was formed one month before WWI started. Only a decade after the Wright Brothers first flew, and aviation was under the stranglehold of bureaucrats, the RNAS depended on commercial aircraft companies. The result was that the RNAS dropped the first torpedo before the outbreak of WWI at a time when the British Army and the Germans were equipped with frail unarmed machines. The RNAS were also busy bringing aircraft carriers into service. The amazing progress by British naval aviators has often been in the face of political attempts to deny the Royal Navy an aviation component.
However, the situation may not be as bleak as it might look. The commercialization of space has begun. Aerospace companies are keen to develop new technologies and hope for both increasing government support and commercial returns. This could be good news for the US and for mankind. A rapidly expanding space program is essential to human development. It poses huge challenges but offers larger rewards. Freed from bureaucracy, aerospace companies may well introduce new technologies, such as the space elevator, first described by British science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke.
Progress during the next decades may equal the speed of aircraft development
The space shuttle program may end when STS135 concludes with the last landing of Atlantis, but the real space race may just be starting. The next stage in space exploration may rival the speed of aircraft development 100 years ago.