"Earth’s distant orb appeared the smallest light that twinkles in the heaven; whilst round the chariot’s way innumerable systems rolled and countless spheres diffused an ever-varying glory. It was a sight of wonder: some were hornèd like the crescent moon; some shed a mild and silver beam like Hesperus o'er the western sea; some dashed athwart with trains of flame, like worlds to death and ruin driven; some shone like suns, and as the chariot passed, eclipsed all other light." From "Queen Mab" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1813)

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Virtually There

Let's light this candle!

I'm entering the blogosphere at long last. I've never been able to keep a diary for more than two days so I don't expect to be writing something here every day, however, the occasional missive, musing and rant will appear when I get round to it.

So why am I here doing this? Partly inspired by my partner, who blogs quite often and writes in her journal every day. Partly inspired by my brother, who since the end of last year (2009) has been blogging almost every day. And partly because while other social networking sites come and go, the blog goes on regardless. I shall try and do the same.

Todays thought. The cancellation of the Constellation Programme by President Obama is still hitting me rather hard. It looks like I shan't see people walking on the surface of the moon again in my lifetime. I suppose the Chinese might do it and maybe future US Presidents may want to boldly go to the moon once more but for now, things are looking bleak. Congress may not agree and change the plans back again and NASA is continuing to work on Constellation till the end of this financial year, so there is a small glimmer of hope, but I'm not holding my breath.

For me, there is far more to manned space flight, and in particular a manned moon landing, than just the doing of it, terrestrial technological offshoots and national pride for the Americans; it's bigger than that, it's for all of us and it's about human progression and advancement as a species; it's about reaching out to the unknown and making it knowable; it's something positive and wonderful that enriches those of us that will never have the oportunity to make that journey ourselves; and it's about what we can find out about ourselves and our home planet as much as it is about discovering what's out there.

Yes, there are problems here on earth that need solving and that costs money but that is always going to be the case and let's be honest, it's subjective as to how that money can be better spent. We could make it possible that no one on this earth will ever be hungry again, or go without medical care, and that everyone gets a decent education but how many of us are willing to make that happen in reality? We could demand of our politicians that these things happen but in the US a large portion of the population aren't even willing to pay a little extra for health care for their own people! OK, before I go off too far into rant country I'll return to the point.

I was really looking forward to Constellation ushering in a new era of excitement about space and generating a renewed sense of interest in science. Some hope, I know, but it might have happened. NASA will still be there and there will be exciting and thrilling space adventures taking place, just not with people on the moon. I'll get over it and I will, we all will, still have Apollo to look up to and inspire us.

Suggested reading: "Carrying The Fire" the autobiography of Michael Collins, Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot.

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