Friday, September 16, 2005

2005: A Space Obituary

Like many kids in the 1960s, I was enthralled with the Apollo program, and of course beguiled with Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrik’s bold vision, in their film 2001 A Space Odyssey, of a grand future for humanity in outer space.

Clarke may have pioneered the concept of communications satellites, which today we take for granted, but he was not quite so prescient with his prediction of scheduled Pan Am flights by 2001 plying the void between Earth and Moon.

Not only is Pan Am a blessed memory now missing from our grand vista, but NASA Administrator Mike Griffin recently made the startling, yet probably overdue admission that, after all this time, “We’re in the very early stages of learning how to do space flight. It’s just barely possible to do it.”

Another problem barely mentioned is that, due to the possibility of genetic damage from prolonged exposure to the cosmic radiation that rages beyond the protective layers of Mother Earth, space travelers may have to forfeit reproductive rights once they leave our fair blue firmament.

Colonising other worlds? Mastery of the Universe? Keep your feet on the ground, folks, because we can’t even master the problems of our poor wounded earthly home.

The only benefit that may accrue from advancing our present shambolic attempts at space travel would be the launching of an interplanetary Ark to convey an unhappy, residual band of human survivors to the next planet that will have to suffer our depredations.

Now, have a nice day, y'all.


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