Friday, July 08, 2011

Why I'm sad, angry, and disgusted

Yesterday I posted a cartoon lamenting the death of the U.S. Space Shuttle program; and the general state of the space program, under the title "Too sad, angry, and disgusted for commentary".

Several of the responses I got were along the lines of "I'm glad the shuttle is dead, it was way overdue" and other similar sentiments.

Sentiments I happen to agree with, at least in part.

I should be clear... I'm not upset the shuttle is gone...

I'm angry that the shuttle is gone, and there's no replacement.

I'm angry that we're dependent on another country to lift our astronauts into space.

I'm ANGRY that the shuttle is 30 years old; and we've been pouring resources and energy into the shuttle program for almost 40 years now, with basically no real development of an alternate solution...

Except that's not PRECISELY true.

There has been LOTS of development on alternate solutions; none of which have been allowed to succeed (and only one has even been allowed to proceed to where NASA was in 1960).

We've spent tens of billions on alternate solutions, but public sector and private; and NASA has spent the entire time actively suppressing, delaying, or killing anything that would compete with or replace the shuttle; all as part of the bureaucratic funding fight.

I know this first hand, having been involved in several of the SSTO projects in the 90s (I was free labor; as an engineering student. My primary degree is in Aerospace engineering, and I've been a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics since I was 18).

It has been 42 years since we first landed on the moon; and a little less than 39 years since Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, left it.

I'm angry, because we have willingly, become a frigate navy nation.

We should have spacelines. We should have private spacecraft available for purchase to anyone.

We should be living on the moon, living on mars... we should be out in the stars.

Instead, we're navelgazing.