Sunday, July 23, 2006

Private Hopes

Have a look at Rand Simberg's latest at TCS Daily, as he examines space travel, both past and future, from the first time man stepped on the Moon, to the colonization of Mars. He talks of the hopes of the past and "...the vision offered to so many of us in the sixties, of a progression of space stations, to lunar bases, to sending humans themselves to the Red Planet, and not just their electromechanical emissaries." He points out the obvious--thus far we have fallen short of that goal, although the goal remains. Simberg also talks of the hopes for the future, and the need for a new approach to our quest for the stars. He fears that NASA is relying too much on old thinking and old technology, and expresses concern that NASA's current aims in space travel will not be served by its return to the massively expensive Apollo approach that was originally abandoned because its costs were too high. He seems more sanguine about the future of privately funded space exploration, such as the recent progress toward a space hotel. Simberg's bio states that he's "a recovering aerospace engineer and a consultant in space commercialization, space tourism and Internet security," so I suppose he's got a vested interest in private sector space travel. However. I don't get the impression that he's got an anti-government axe to grind, merely that he wants to get out there, and is tired of waiting for Uncle Sam to get his act together. He is hoping that getting more people in on the action will get us all a little closer to "the final frontier."

Update: I don't have quite the same reservations as Simberg about NASA's approach to future ventures past Earth's orbit, despite the obvious shortcomings of the last few decades, but then I also don't have his knowledge. So, read his piece for yourself and let me know whether you think he's on the money.