Running away from the future

Jul 21, 2011 | | 1 comments |

So the last ever Shuttle mission landed today. Forty years ago we were walking on the moon. Twenty years ago we were in orbit. Now we're grounded, in the west at least. Japan, China and India march on with their space programs, and Europe and America now rely solely on the Russians just to get into low earth orbit. The ultra conservative right are cheering because now they see this as no longer "wasting" money on "pointless" space programs (their words, not mine). That attitude would have been fun a few centuries ago. What would the world be like if the conquistadors, or Columbus, had looked west across the ocean and said "I think we'll just stay in tonight" ? It bugs me immensely that Obama cancelled the Orion program. I like him as a president but his decision to basically shut down NASA boggles the mind. Are we suddenly afraid of spending money on science? Of course the usual argument is "it could be being used on more socially responsible programs". Well you know what? The 4 trillion dollars that Bush cost this country by taking us to war on a lie could have funded those same programs, and NASA, ten times over. Shit - the US military spends $20million a year just to air condition the troop tents in Iraq! I guess it's better to go to war than to fund scientific advancement though, and all those bleating Republicans will be the first to complain when an asian country plants their flag on the moon, or Mars.
America has suffered the same fate that England did when it retired Concorde. Financial prudence and the demands of bloated, greedy shareholders took precedent over scientific advancement.
We are marching backwards into the dark ages here in the west. It's tragic that the politicians and string-pullers are so short-sighted now. Think where this country could have been if we'd spent $4trillion on science, space programs, stem cell research, infrastructure and social programs over the last ten years.