Careful what you ask for! [was RE: [FPSPACE] Wondering about
lunar missions profiles]
raoul.lannoy at pandora.be
Mon Aug 8 16:07:21 EDT 2005
We could ask ourselves: What do we want from space? Why am I interested?
Isn't a spacewalk interesting? I find it great! A huge event for the
spacewalker, great images for us, the guy floating in the void with the
Earth in the background!
I also enjoy a space shuttle or a station or a satellite showing all its
sides in a dance with the Earth running around in a distance (well, we're
running around it, rather).
Astronauts staying inside in weightlessness with no particular place to go
except being up there does sound less interesting.
I'd say a moonwalk is great too! Jumping, bouncing, tumbling , running with
a huge mountainous lunar landscape and a blue marble out there must be
fantastic to the guy who's there and to the public, especially when cameras
are getting better and more numerous!
Astronauts spending months between planets, with nothing but a fiery disk
and the big black void, will that inspire them and and us?
The Moon is ideal in terms of attention span: it's not too short for the
public to quickly forget and not too long for the public to get bored.
Every day, there's an important phase going on: rendez-vous, TLI, a border
crossed , another world reached than later touched. There's a crescendo of
events leading to the landing on the Moon.
Then later, an anticlimatic feeling when they're on their way back except
The Shuttle was very often going up...staying and coming back. Now, there's
a rendez-vous added.
How can space be exciting? Every flight should be more than the previous one
(further, faster, longer, more people, in more dangerous places, better
pictures, etc). And when the attention span with the Moon is over, then ,
there's a one month long orbit around the Earth and Moon a year long orbit
around the Sun (flying by a planet and an Earth grazing asteroid for
instance). They shouldn't do that too often because it's hardly exploration
and more like endurance.
The paradox being that exploration flights will involve very few astronauts
while low earth orbital flights could still involve dozen astronauts per
year (if they go on).
As for Mars, well, until astronauts have spent a year orbiting the Sun, I'm
not going to speculate...Mars has a big problem: the time it takes to do
anything about it (even testing the equipment and the humans).
> 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?
> John Charles
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