Careful what you ask for! [was RE: [FPSPACE] Wondering about lun
ar missions profiles]
CHARLES, JOHN B. (JSC-SL) (NASA)
john.b.charles at nasa.gov
Mon Aug 8 13:23:13 EDT 2005
Every time someone says "mothball the Shuttle" and "abandon the station" so
we can "get on with exploration," I remember that about 35 years ago, when
we were exploring the Moon, popular sentiment drove us in the opposite
direction. It was "why are we exploring the Moon when there is so much to
learn about Earth?" and NASA's mission shifted to Earth-centric missions.
Popular enthusiasm went from its brief peak with Apollo 11 (July 1969) to
such a nadir by the time of Apollo 13 (April 1970) that the TV networks were
curtailling their coverage. That 9-month attention span corresponds to the
time it will take our intrepid astronauts to travel from Earth to Mars, !
It appears that our parents' generation got the program shifted towards
Earth as they wanted then. How long before the popular attention (such as
it is) shifts again? Are we doing everything we can to cement support for
space exploration in general (e.g., stop sniping at on-going programs,
minimize the differences in our approaches, maximize support for common
goals) and learn from the past, lest we re-live it?
Opinions expressed are my own and do not represent anyone else's.
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