Back in the day, I was a huge space nut. You know that kid you went to school with who knew just a little too much about dinosaurs? Yeah, that was me, only with NASA.
But, I have to admit, the luster of manned space flight has tarnished of late. The "science" isn't there, and the almost obessive nature of NASA's desire to "fix" the Shuttle program is sad to watch as an adult.
So, when I saw a link from Kottke to Maciej Ceglowski's post "A Rocket to Nowhere", I had to click.
It's harsh. It's bitter. It's also true.
The goal cannot be to have a safe space program - rocket science is going to remain difficult and risky. But we have the right to demand that the space program have some purpose beyond trying to keep its participants alive.
Ceglowski's post is spot on. Spend time to read the whole thing; it's worth it. He writes like someone who has dreamed the dream, but woken up to a harsh reality. He writes what I want to have written. As my generation starts to raise their children and reflect on what it meant to be children ourselves, dinosaurs and space travel take on a new intrigue, seen through the eyes of those children. How will those children see our childhood world? How will we see it in a few more years?
With programs like Burt Rutan and SpaceShip One, space travel is slowing reaching the very real edge of space exploration, teasing that irrational hope of touching the stars. I would hate to see Ceglowski's post stand as a epitaph to the Shuttle program, but it does deserve to stand witness as the rational evaluation of the close of the Shuttle program.