Friday, June 15, 2007

Viva la Skylab!

It may be all over for the International Space Station. Just like the ill-fated Skylab station that went crashing to Earth in the 70's, the ISS might be taking its own doomsday plunge in a few months if scientists can't get past the finger-pointing game and come up with some solutions.

The main computer that controls flight and life support on the station is failing, and its Russian manufacturers say it may have a "fatal flaw." Even though I think the ISS is a joke as far as technological achievement is concerned, I'm a huge supporter of the space program. And unfortunately, if this station dies, the space program will die with it.

Billions of dollars have gone into this money pit - money that could have been spent upgrading our Shuttle fleet or gone into a deep space exploration program (in my mind, infinitely more beneficial programs). So, if the ISS decides to take a crap in the Indian Ocean sometime next year, politicians the world over will use this as the perfect excuse not to fund any new space programs for a while. And once the money is out of the budgets, it won't be coming back anytime soon. All of this excepts China, which will become the world's space leader in 10 years if we don't take this seriously.

So, if I may change a famous quote from a good TV show for my purposes here, and suggest: "Save the space station, save the world!" OK, so it may not be that dramatic, but if the space station, and thus, the space program dies, so will humanity's will for exploration. Like everything else, the risks that have served to enrich our species will take a back seat to safety. That's not to say being safe is bad... but when it interferes with mans spirit of discovery and self-improvement, we'll be about as well off as cavemen who never left the cave.

And as if to further decry the futility of our work in space, CNN doesn't even have a single story about this fiasco on their main web page - not even in their space section. Unless the the station is saved... space travel will be synonymous with the muffler bracket of a '79 Pinto.


Daniel said...

money that could have been spent upgrading our Shuttle fleet
You do mean replacing the Shuttle right? While I love those old birds we desperately need something new to replace them. It saddens me that at this point space travel is still a relatively big event and not a commodity transaction...

And Hell yeah, sadly for me the space station situation is far more gripping than the Palastinian situation right now (*yawn* again?).

Dan said...

Yes, absolutely... I will have to edit appropriately. The shuttle needs to be replaced, and the whole program needs to be upgraded, updated, whatever.

I wonder if all of the ISS people will be riding home on the shuttle next week? Sad.

And, it's hard not to yawn at the situation in the middle east. But, since I'm a middle east junkie as well, I am equally riveted. I think the whole area is gearing up for another summer war.