2013-04-04

Then vs Now

The picture on the right has been floating around the Intertubes lately and it seems to make the point that we have not improved space flight.

Huh?

True enough, the space shuttle has been retired.  But for good reason: it is not only obsolete -- it wasn't a terribly good idea to begin with.   Don't get me wrong.  The shuttles did get the job done, but for the amount of money NASA spent on keeping them operational for 135 missions, they could probably have developed a much, much, much more cost effective alternative.

What belongs on the lower right square is probably the Dragon spacecraft (however, there are other initiatives that are worthy of mention as well).  Compared to the space shuttle it is every bit as big a leap as brick phones to iPhones.  It is simpler, cheaper, and it is made from materials that are ridiculously efficient.

However the graphic is right in one respect: we have stopped caring.  And that is a sad commentary on our society.  When Dragon flew last year it was the biggest event in space technology since Armstrong landed on the moon -- yet the media was barely interested.

Millions of people watched Felix Baumgartner jump from 39.000 meters. A fairly unimportant advertising and penis-stroking exercise repeating something that had been done 50 years earlier with slightly fancier gear and a bunch of webcams.

The white square mostly represents our lack of interest in things that take more than 10 seconds to explain.

Because we sure as shit have spacecraft that makes the space shuttle look like something ... out of the cold war era.

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