Saturday, February 20, 2010

Torn Between Two Loves

Ahhh the love of adventure! That's the life for me... If you are an Astronaut, (or a pirate) you either said those very words or at the very least, think them on a daily basis. Man is a curious beast and will stop at nothing to be the first to see what is around the next bend. That very essence of mankind runs deep in the bowels of NASA. In the early 60's NASA launched an unprecedented program to get a man on the Moon but not just to do a walkabout up there but to establish a base there (by 1980) and from there set forth on even more adventures reaching out to Mars and beyond. Them was some big plans I tell you! Driven by a political undercurrent, the NASA group did succeed in their first goal. They had men playing golf on the Moon! OK maybe THAT was not one of their goals but they did have men doing the exploring on our closest neighbor. Things were moving along fairly well. NASA was always pushing the envelope which is just exactly where Mankind feels at home.

Enter political change and a couple of this and thats and the Moon budget dried up. There was a sense of "been there done that " going on in congress and they do indeed write the checks. Man has a deep seated need to reach out and find the unexplored from the depths of the ocean to the outer reaches of our Solar system. Man just has to know what is out there and why. It needs to be hands on with our own eyes. We have a need to be the first to see the Lunar regolith up close and personal or hopefully one day to set foot on Mars. It's just what we do.

This is unfortunately where Romance meets Reality. I am a romantic at heart; I live for the next big adventure but when you live on or in a giant gravity well such as Earth it gets a bit pricey to send people anywhere. NASA so gets that. Just one look at the launch budget for the Space shuttle tells that tale. So where to turn? The simple fact that the money dried up in no way quenched that deep burn in Mankind to get out and explore. What it did do for NASA was to bring robotics and remote controlled orbiters and landers and explorers and surveyors to the front and boy did they come to the front.

This is where my Second love comes into play, The Love of Gizmos! I am a full fledged dues paying member Fully vested member of the Man Club and I love Toys. One look at my telescope room will tell you that. From making telescopes accessories to collecting all those bells and whistles, Oh and do not get me started on tools that's me! For a Guy who has got it bad (and I do ) Nothing beats making something and actually have it work! Just making it is enough for me but when it actually works? That makes it all the better. That's when it is time to do the victory dance. So when I see the pictures sent by the Cassini probe streaming back from almost a Billion miles away to my TV there is only one thing to be said here. I got to get me one of those!

Mars is starting to look like the Atlanta flight pattern. The ESA, NASA, Russia... have hardware flying and sending back data about our neighbor. The continuing development of Gizmos is growing by leaps and bounds. Cameras are getting better and smaller. Detectors looking for life are getting more sophisticated by the day. Developing these new technologies for space have some very usable applications here on Earth as well. From exploring the depths of the ocean to keeping soldiers safe on the battlefield, these technologies are here to stay. Right now, Scientists are struggling with data interpretation but in a very few years our means to detect life from a handful of dirt on a planet millions upon millions of miles away will be a walk in the park.

Yep,That's where I am, torn by the love of adventure. (to boldly go where no man has gone before) Reaching to touch the face of God kind of exploring versus the mind bending discoveries made by the armada of space probes headed to and fro in search of the next big thing.They are cheaper to send and basically more bang for the buck. Right now, I am leaning towards the Doodad Gizmo front for the sciences to be conducted. But now here is a thought for you. Is manned space flight a thing of the past? Private companies are saying no and are banking on it as well. The applications of private carrier space flight are nearly limitless from satellite hauling for governments to tourism to eventually Asteroid mining to on and on... So take heart my sea /sky faring souls. There is hope for our adventures to continue Until then I will just have to watch my Star Trek video collection...

Clear skies and great seeing too

Steve T

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