Shuttle Atlantis Home! Prompts Me to Look to America’s Future … and I’m Troubled

 Posted by DrJeff on November 27th, 2009

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This is a Teachable Moment in the News and a Dr. Jeff Speaks Out.

 

This is crossposted at the Huffington Post HERE and at the Space Tweep Society Blog HERE.

 

I just watched space shuttle Atlantis land at Kennedy. I had lots and lots of mixed emotions. The shuttle is just a remarkable technological achievement, and watching it land can be a pretty emotional experience.


But the space shuttle was never supposed to be more than a space truck to low Earth orbit. I was left reflecting on my childhood when I watched Apollo astronauts walking on the Moon, and dreamed of what awaited us in the 21st century in terms of human spaceflight. It has definitely not come to pass. In fact, approaching 2010 we are now at a crossroads. Shuttle has just 5 more flights, and then the U.S. will need to rely on the Russians for years just to have astronaut access to the International Space Station. And that’s just keeping the status quo with humans continuing to travel no farther from the surface of Earth than a couple hundred miles. I drive farther than that visiting my mom just north of New York City from my home near Washington, DC. It’s called low Earth orbit, and we’ve been stuck here now for 37 YEARS. Is this the grand vision for human spaceflight we embraced 40 years ago when we saw Armstrong and Aldrin walking on the Moon?


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