To Hell With The Space Race

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Space exploration was hugely influenced by the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. It became a sense of national pride to launch artifical elements, and then people, into space.  It really came down to a race for military and ideological supremacy. Anything else was a bonus.  

That was then. In current times, this space race mentality is no longer necessary. We shouldn't be comparing ourselves to China, India, or other countries.  Especially since space exploraiton is a great example of international cooperation (the International Space Station, and the science projects which take part on it, wouldn't exist otherwise).

I watched a great panel this weekend with former astronaut Bonnie Dunbar, chief astronomer Derrick Pitts, Dr. Nina Khrushcheva and aeronautics professor Wesley Harris. It's rare to see a nuanced, in depth discussion about space on television - check it out!

(If you can't see the video below, click here)

Interestingly, Melissa Harris-Perry's experience with the Challenger explosion made her hate space. I had the opposite reaction - it made me dig into my resources to see what went wrong and how our scientists worked hard to improve the safety aspects of space travel.  Science is about exploration, which unfortunately means learning from mistakers

The second video is on the privatization of spaceflight with the same panel - check it out!

(If you can't see the video below, click here)

NASA Shut Down, But We Still Celebrate 55 Years

(Editors Note: Most of the NASA links are inactive because of the government shutdown. Yay Congress.) 

In the midst of the Cold War, the US government created NASA in 1958 to gain an edge in space exploration. It was partially a defensive move agains the Soviet launch of the first Earth satellite, Sputnik, in 1957.  NASA superseded the existing National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which was formed in 1915 to pursue aeronautical research.

In the past 55 years, NASA has grown beyond its iniitial goals to be part of a global initative in support of space travel and harnessing its benefits for Earth. Check out the following infographic to get a sense of accomplishments as well as future endeavours. My hope is that this blog will be around long enough to cover each of the "things to come"! For more info, click on the infographic or visit this site.


Some more detail is available on NASA's site:

We’ve sent 12 humans to walk and work on the moon, sent four rovers and four landers to explore Mars and sentVoyager into interstellar space.
We’ve studied our home planet, every other planet in the solar system, and the sun at the center of it all.
We’ve peered deep into the distant past of the universe with Great Observatories like HubbleSpitzer and Chandra.
We’ve built an International Space Station larger than a five-bedroom house and sent humans to live and work off the planet continuously since November 2000. 
We've flown 30 years of space shuttle missions to launch and repair Hubble, build the space station and perform science in Earth orbit.
We've developed experimental aircraft and tested technologies that make today's airplanes safer and greener
We’ve produced hundreds of innovations that enable current and future NASA missions and improve the daily lives of everyone on Earth, from life-saving medical technologies to advances in telecommunications, weather forecasting, robotics and emergency response.
There’s way too much to list it all … and we’re not done yet.
We plan to land humans on Mars in the 2030s. We're getting set to send MAVEN to Mars and OSIRIS-REx to an asteroid, and we'll be watching as Juno arrives at Jupiter and New Horizons arrives at Pluto. We’ll launch the James Webb Space Telescopeto follow Hubble in the quest to understand our universe, looking all the way back to the first luminous glows after the Big Bang.   We’ll continue looking at the home planet from our unique perspective in space, improving air travel and developing cutting-edge technologies for the benefit of all mankind.