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Bon Voyage, Endeavour!

For us the twenty-second century history of space travel is something we feel we know something about. In Ghulf Genes the story of how humanity ventures into space, establishes robust human settlements on Mars and in other solar systems is told with such clarity and drama that it feels, as we remember those narrative events, as if it they’d actually happened.

Nonetheless, we’re also keen observers of what is going on today—and today we’ve had another lift-off! You can see a bit of it here. It is a pleasure to note another successful launch of the Shuttle Endeavour as it makes one of its last trips to the International Space Station (ISS). The Endeavour carries yet more building blocks for the growing ISS. We wish the crew and all those involved a most successful trip.

It’s strange to contemplate what comes next for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The shuttle program is to end later this year or during 2011 all depending on the final launch schedules. After that U.S. astronauts will have to hitch rides either on one of the Russian Soyus program vehicles and/or the European Union Ariane 5 vehicle in order to continue their participation with ongoing work on the ISS. What an odd position to be in after having played a leading role in space exploration for so many years…

The Obama Administration’s decisions on the future funding of NASA add further complications. It looks as if a program NASA has been pursuing for several years now, the Constellation program, will be shelved: we won’t be sending astronauts back to the moon anytime soon. We’ll also forgo replacing the shuttle fleet. Instead we’ll turn to the marketplace to provide us with future vehicles for manned space flight.

Somehow, the bold vision many have shared and hoped to see realized is fading. Some of that, by the way, is also mirrored in Ghulf Genes. In that tale too, the unruly free market forges its own odd visions.

But back to this world. Some people feel strongly that we’re on the verge of a renaissance in space exploration. In reading up on this subject we ran across a most interesting blog called 21st Century Waves. The contributors to the blog come from the aerospace industry and academia and have a common interest in space exploration, travel, and colonization. They formulate the idea behind the blog as follows:

Next Apollo-Style Space Race in ~5 Years?

Today’s world is afflicted by natural disasters, economic uncertainty, and global terrorism. Is it possible that President Kennedy’s nearly 50 year old vision of human expansion into space will rise again, in ~5 years, to dominate global headlines?

This weblog — 21stCenturyWaves.com — shows the answer is yes.

We shall see where this leads—but those of us who have read Ghulf Genes feel that  we have a pretty good idea where things might be by the end of the next century.

In the meantime, our best wishes go to all those striving to learn more about the vast universe and coming up with ways in which we can explore the world out there up close and personal.

Image credit: NASA here.

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3 Responses

  1. Of course, readers of the “Ghulf Genes Trilogie” have seen the future of humanity in vivid detail: it is in Far Space!

    But if you ask “who will invent ZEROFRIC?” Ah, to find the answer to this question one must read this “future history”.

    Questions of today’s more current type, as for example: who will fund the research for such ventures? That’s are more difficult to answer. Only a very wealthy country or patron could be expected to provide the necessary resources, not our current cash-strapped NASA leadership or even Congress.

    Could it be Wall Street with its overflowing pockets of profits? Suddenly finding its conscience and responsibility toward the country that allows it to enrich itself so lavishly? Nah, I somehow don’t think so!

    But I’ll continue my future dreams of Whales on Rails and Mars’ Hydroslime, etc. Some of us call that “Treasure-mapping”.

  2. Thanks for mentioning our blog!

    Initially, I was personally very disturbed by the cancellation of Constellation but after examining it in the context of long-term economic fluctuations and current trends, realized it fit our expectations very well.

    The financial Panic of 2008 and our current great recession are painful but typical features that, over the last 200 years, appear just before golden ages of prosperity, exploration, and technology (except for the 1960s) that we call “Maslow Windows.”

    You’re welcome to explore how economic booms, ebullience, and the Maslow hierarchy have worked together previously: http://21stcenturywaves.com/2009/12/19/the-economics-of-ebullience-points-to-a-sparkling-new-global-space-age/

    Best regards…
    Bruce

  3. Oups, hydroslime comes from Santa Ana not from rainless Mars.

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