Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Today in Space...

On April 12, 1961 Comrade Lieutenant Yuri Gagarin of the former Soviet Union became the first human being to break the surly bonds of Earth and enter orbit.

Here’s to you, Yuri, Happy Anniversary!

"When I orbited the Earth in a spaceship, I saw for the first time how beautiful our planet is. Mankind, let us preserve and increase this beauty, and not destroy it!"

- Yuri Gagarin

Also today, in 1981 the United States launched it's first fully functional Space Shuttle Columbia into orbit.

Whic brings me to another Space event today: NASA has finally chosen what museums will get what retired shuttlecraft.

Kennedy Space Center gets Atlantis.

The Smithsonian Institute gets Discovery (they already have Enterprise)

The California Science Center in Los Angeles will get Endeavor.

and finally, New York City's Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum will get Enterprise.

I have to say I feel especially bad for Houston's Johnson Space Center, who get nothing.

I am also (as an Ohio resident) pretty bummed that the Museum of the United States Airforce in Dayton, OH will not be getting a shuttle. I thought we might at least get Enterprise.

Enterprise never went into space, it was a prototype.

I guess that means that Wright Pat can duke it out with Houston over who gets to display Moonraker.


The7ofSwords said...

OK, beginning with the issue of lesser import ...

Atlantis will be on display at KSC (this makes some amount of sense, I suppose)
Endeavour at the California Science Center (I guess it' seems fair to put one on the West Coast)
Discovery goes to the National Air & Space Museum at the Smithsonian (they're giving up Enterprise to get it (I guess that's OK, too, but seems like a bit of a waste of effort and money)
Enterprise is going to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space museum (Huh? Why?)

The East coast gets three shuttles, the West coast gets one, and the middle of the country gets ... nothing?

Couldn't they have at least put Enterprise at Johnson SC in Houston, or the USAF Museum in Dayton?

That makes me sad and kind of angry. :-/

I mean ... NY is only a short train-ride from Washington. And seriously, do you think either NY or FL really need more tourist incentives? Plenty of people visit both of those places on a regular basis. Dayton could really use the tourist dollars that a shuttle might bring. And, like you, I feel especially bad for Houston ... seems like they got the shaft in a big way.

As far as the more important issues - the anniversaries ... I hope the confluence of these dates and the Yuri's Night events of the last few years go a long way towards promoting interest in space exploration - both manned and unmanned. Investment in basic science research, in all fields, has been drastically reduced over the last few decades, and that, too, makes me sad and angry.

I know people complain about the expense involved in space exploration, but it's really a miniscule amount of the overall federal budget, and it's something that benefits all of humanity. If we had taken a very small percentage of what we spend on the military and put it towards NASA for the last couple of decades we'd be so much farther ahead than we are now. I know the pace that was set from '61-'70 was probably impossible to keep up, but it's sad that we've fallen so far.

Also, April 12 was the beginning of the American Civil War exactly 150 years ago, and David Letterman was born on the same date in 1947.

Finally, April 12, 2011 - new Foo Fighters album!

I'm going to go listen to that now.


Ghost Who Blogs said...

7- I know, right? No disrespect to the Intrepid, but why would NYC need a space shuttle on their Aircraft Carrier/ air museum. Thematically awkward if you ask me (not that NASA did). And will it fit inside? Please tell me it's not going to sit on the deck!

We need a good space rival again. Iran's "space program" is just a ruse to develop ICBM's, I'm sure. Where are the Chinese?? The idea of a Chinese moonbase would get us off our asses, I'll wager.

And where is the Private Sector on this? Most people think the possibility of mining all those asteroids or putting in a moon hotel is going to get big business interested in space, Truth is, Big Business likes to stick to things they know work. Like selling cutting edge tech to NASA. Except NASA isn't buying. Not in the budget.