NASA needs a revamp – Damn right, Mr President

Yesterday, in a Twitter town hall meeting (which shows that this president knows how to feel the pulse of the people) President Obama spoke his mind on the current state of National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

“We’re still using the same models for space travel that we used with the Apollo program, 30, 40 years ago. And so what we’ve said is: Rather than keep on doing the same thing, let’s invest in basic research around new technologies that can get us places faster, allow human spaceflight to last longer.”

While defining new goals for the program as Mars with a pit stop on an asteroid may be a little vague, the President has made an extremely valid point. NASA, like most Government bodies, survives on ancient tech, and probably more than most. Space Shuttle Atlantis, scheduled to launch July 8, 2011, had its initial contract awarded in 1979 and was first launched in 1985, less than four months after I was born. While the International Space Station is no slouch launch target, it’s short sighted.

Of course, my advanced degree in Bloggerology permits me the freedom to make these – and the following – statements. While surviving in the depths of space (even the shallow ones) is a noble goal, I believe we’ve long surpassed the knowledge necessary to travel further. It’s not an easy plan, but I think if we plan this properly, further travel can be achieved.

Step 1: Popular Support

In order to advance in this fight, the first thing that needs to be accomplished is to gather the American public behind the cause. Without Americans caring, NASA will be relegated to monitoring our astronauts going up on foreign rockets. We need to be reminded of the Glory Days of NASA. The days when the major R&D in the USA came from the Government, not the private sector.

The Science Channel has the right idea, as does NASA, in running #NASAtweetup. They’re garnering interest in the space program by using the emotions of the last flight to round up supporters.

Step 2: To the Moon!

Why the Moon? Because we’ve done it. We know what’s there, and it’d make good practice. We can practice building a base of operations, within range of a rescue squad. Not only can we use it for research and practice, but eventually, it could turn a profit.

The first pieces of the station should be designed to be left on the surface, forming the first pieces of the base. After that, a shuttle service wouldn’t too far out of reach. By the time we’ve mastered the art of lifting large chunks of space habitat, we should have a handle on relatively cheap planet departing techniques.

Once the station has fulfilled its initial purpose, it can be turned over to mining exploration companies, or as a tourist attraction. As lame as that sounds, it’s got potential. Don’t forget that this will be many years in the future, and no one knows what’s gonna happen.

Step 3: Use the ISS as a jumping station.

Instead of launching our future exploration from Earth, we should consider using the International Space Station as a launch point. Gravity would severely limit the resources we’d be able to carry if we launched from Earth’s surface. The ISS would allow us to gather up all necessary resources in one spot over time, and launch a larger – better prepared – ship.

Using what we learned from the Lunar Station Kevlar (my suggestion – feel free to use it, NASA), we can establish our “pit stop” on the as yet unnamed asteroid. Of course, we’ll need to send many satellites out to scout the area, checking for minerals that we can use, instead of having us ship our own all the way from Cape Canaveral. The initial station should serve two purposes; mining and factory.

What does it all mean?

It means we’ve got a very long time before any of this happens, but it has to start now. The creation of sustainable habitats for these missions would help out a great deal here on Earth. Creating quickly replaceable foods could greatly benefit the planet, as would low- to no-waste living areas. Increased efficiency in solar and other energy production would allow a bunch of hippies to shut up.

I say we go for it. The American public needs a cause to rally behind. A cause that goes further than just our generation, and one that could put more smiles on faces than graves in the ground. Hell, we’re already broke; let’s go for brokest.

Source: MSNBC

2 thoughts on “NASA needs a revamp – Damn right, Mr President”

  1. Eric Johnston

    I fear rallying public support at this point in our cultural evolution may be a lost cause, unless we can show the public that there are better forms of wrasslin’, reality TV or NASCAR in the depths of space. I think we’re already on the down slope into Idiocracy.

    1. I don’t think peope are as dumb as the media would like. Sure, it’s easy to get hooked on dumb shows that pander to low-level emotions, rather than inspiring people to cheer for that woman who didn’t know her husband was a sheep-lover. 

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