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sp-china.jpgChina succeeds in sending a man into space, the third country to do so. Yeah! A Chinese manned mission to the moon in a few years has been rumored for a while now. Will this wake up ESA? (Sending satellites or unmanned probes only gets you so far, you know). And how about NASA? Am I the only one left on Earth that wants a manned mission to Mars like, yesterday? Politicians (theoretically reflecting what their constituents think) say that it's too expensive, too dangerous. People might die, you know. Does it matter that the astronauts would gladly give their lives for the chance of succeeding? (Heck, I'm not an astronaut, but I would too). No. They have to be protected from themselves it seems. Oh, and money is a problem? A mission to Mars could cost 20, 30 billion. I mean, that's too expensive right? Right... How much is the war in Irag going to cost? Isn't the US paying 4 billion a month for it already?

And, sending toy cars that run Java and take measurements and pictures of rocks is to me as interesting as reading a Microsoft press release. Sure, there is some information, but it's all distant and sanitized and in the end it doesn't do anything for you.

If Europe, Russia, the US, Japan and China get together, 30 billion is a drop in the bucket. The US could do the propulsion and vehicle design and construction, Europe and Russia could deal with science and probe design, and China and Japan could design the Mars habitat for the astronauts (No, I didn't choose randomly who was doing what).

Every time I watch a space launch of anything the haird on the back of my neck stand up. I am lifted up with that rocket, I imagine the unseen vistas of Alien landscapes. I feel inspired. But it's inspiration for our potential and what we have achieved in the past, rather than for the reality of a mission. The Apollo missions barely scratched the surface. We have gotten too used to CGI and thinking that a walking carpet (as Princess Leia put it) like Chewbacca is actually an Alien lifeform. Movies and books are great, but there's no replacement for the real thing.

I want to feel inspired by space exploration again. Don't you?

Categories: science
Posted by diego on October 15 2003 at 9:56 AM

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