If only symbolically, this is a depressing day.

So maybe today the last Space Shuttle will launch and do…something expensive. Maybe tomorrow, who knows? Depends on the weather. And parts breakage. And whatever. What is certain is that when it goes, that’ll be the last Shuttle launch ever.

As far as the STS is concerned, good riddance. Should have happened a long time ago, and rid us of the damned embarrassing boondoggle that much sooner. But I keep getting blindsided by the irony that this leaves NASA, the great white hope of the ‘sixties, with no manned program AT ALL. NASA couldn’t even build a Saturn rocket now if it wanted to, because they managed to lose all the damned plans. Some years ago NASA came up with a brilliant plan to “reverse-engineer” sixties tech from old junked parts, because attritional brain-drain had gone so far as to lose all knowledge of how they built heavy-lift spacecraft in the first place. Yeah, that’s progress. And these are the people I used to idolize.

When I think about what they squandered – what WE squandered by leaving it to “them” – I want to weep. Back in the sixties we were all gonna grow up living in the asteroid rings and wearing silver suits. Even then we should have known better. If NASA had been in charge of westward expansion they’d still be expensively experimenting with ways to get highly-trained professionals across the Mississippi. Briefly. And they’d now be reluctantly admitting that they no longer have the capability to build a Conestoga wagon. In my wilder flights (hah!) of antigov paranoia I wonder if it wasn’t planned that way – if NASA wasn’t the National Spaceflight Prevention Agency all along. After all, why should “they” want “us” in space? It might get a little difficult to keep track of the taxpayers.

What’ll NASA do now? Who gives a damn? It won’t help us. After fifty years, the vital question of what space is even for, besides elbow room, hasn’t even been seriously addressed. Whatever it does, it’ll be for the benefit of military aerospace contractors and political log-rollers, not for us. Nor should we expect it to, because “they” are not “us.”

So now, with the last of the Space White Elephants, I feel sad. And depressed. And betrayed. And just a bit of schadenfreude. And sad. It’s too late for me, but will my descendants ever get into space? Not if NASA – and anyone associated with it – has anything to say about it.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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6 Responses to If only symbolically, this is a depressing day.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Nasa will, like all large federal programs, continue to spend enormous amounts of money and under Obama have committed Marxist Socialist appointed to lead it and drag our country down even further.

  2. Matt says:

    Maybe they will finally work on “Pigs in Space!” It would make Jim Henson’s dream come true and possibly keep the muslims out.

  3. Matt, you must have missed NASA Dipstick-In_Charge Bolden’s bit on Muslim outreach.

    Personally, given that faith’s emphasis on the Moon, I would have thought Wiccan outreach was more practical.

    I’ve heard some people are a little surprised that, given my writings, I haven’t had more to say about the end of the STS program. I just figured that after several hundred thousand words of criticism (including a couple of books), I’ve said pretty much all there is to say. If people still can’t grasp the basic flaw in NASA by now, they never will.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I wouldn’t be too depressed; I mean besides the fact that ALL THAT MONEY was stolen and tossed away with the final results being nothing more than a small number of chest thumpers living the Al Bundy glory days ad nauseum at the club. There is still hope we will reach….. something. Privately, unless the feds ban it.
    Maybe someday Joel’s new family addition will pilot a private vessel to a near planet.
    That would be cool.

    Buck.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If Burt Rutan had been in charge of NASA we would already have a permanent base on Mars. Better yet if NASA had never existed and the government had not deliberately stood in the way of people like Burt Rutan we might be on our way to the nearer stars by now.

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To the stake with the heretic!