Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Next Chapter..

Yesterday, the Space Shuttle Endeavor flew over various parts of Southern California on its final flight before heading into its final home at the California Science Center in LA.  One of its fly-overs was JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) which is just a hop, skip and a jump away from my house.  We knew it was going to fly over and we hoped we'd get a good enough view to get a nice shot of this last chance event.

I must say I think the view from my back yard was probably the best in town of not only the shuttle, but of the two chase planes as well.  One chase plane was apparently taking official photos of the event and the other was there for security.

A few minutes after they flew by, LW texted and said she'd been able to take video as it flew by with her phone.

Man, phones have come such a long way, who would have imagined you'd get such amazing video (and granted, the quality is significantly compressed to view via the internet, you'll just have to trust me that the original is high quality) from a phone.

If you listen closely to the end of the video, you'll hear my big, tough, LW sniffling and while I made fun of her - because that's how evil step-moms roll - I have to say, I did a little sniffling myself when it came by.  It's the end of an era - the shuttle space program is winding down. And this means as of right this second, we have no way of putting men into space.

I'm not worried though.  This isn't the first time we've had a fairly big gap of time in sending men into space.  The 1981 shuttle launch was the first US Space flight since 1975.  And in that gap, huge strides were made in technology and space knowledge.  And maybe it's time to turn over some of this to the private sector.  NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden already has a plan to partner with private aerospace companies to drive efforts for getting astronauts into low-Earth orbits while NASA focuses on longer-term exploration of deep space.  This is similar to what we're already doing by looking to private companies to launch satellites into space for us - only now, we'll be looking to them to safely launch people.  Allowing NASA the opportunity to shift their focus may be just what we need to take our space program to the next level.

In fact, just yesterday I was reading an article on Yahoo News about a Super-Earth Gliese 163c - only 50 light years away - that may be capable of supporting life.  And this is just one of many planets scientists are discovering which might be Earth-like.  We're talking colonization type planets people.  And now all we have to do is find a way to get there.  And with this article from Discovery, outlining the real possibility of a warp drive, we just might get there faster than we think.

Of course, it's all theoretical now, but so was putting a man on the moon once upon a time.  Or a rover on Mars for that matter.  American ingenuity has a way of making the impossible, possible.  So don't look at this as the end of the space program.  Look at it as the beginning of the next chapter of our pursuit to "boldly go".

Seriously.. Thoughts?

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