The Kennedy Vision

A NASA astronaut jokingly advertises a recover...

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50 years ago this coming Wednesday, on May 25th, 1961, then President John F. Kennedy gave the speech which launched NASA’s effort to go to the Moon…resulting in the Apollo Program.

When I first started writing this article,  I was going to complain about how short-sightedness had trapped human spaceflight in LEO ever since Kennedy’s visionary Apollo program ended in 1972.  I was going to grouse about how with the upcoming retirement of the Space Shuttle Program, and no active replacement system in the works, the humans of this country had “grounded” themselves.  I was going to whine at length about how Kennedy’s vision for the future had been abandoned.

I sat down and started looking for the following video to start todays article with…

But along the way, I found this very entertaining and inspiring newscast from SpaceVidCast…

…and then, having never having heard of SpaceVidCast prior to today, I wanted to see something more recent and found this tour of the SpaceX “railroad” launch facility…

Then I saw a video in the SpaceVidCast YouTube space on Virgin Galactic.  Since I am a huge fan of Spaceship 2 I had to click on it…though the video is a little outdated…

I saw the lists of future and current NASA missions.  True, only ISS and the Space Shuttle carry humans aboard, but gosh you know what?  The robotic missions are just so cool!

And…I couldn’t help but notice that NASA will announce their new human spaceflight system tomarrow (May 24th).  I’ve already read that it’ll likely involve Orion (or some form of it) and be versatile enough for a broad range of inter-planetary destinations.

So does it still bug me that our government over the decades has not allowed NASA to put in place a replacement for the Shuttle?  Yep!  But I’ve been an advocate for commercial space throughout the life of the Shuttle, and I have to admit that I really like where New Space is going.

Does it still disappoint me me that we’ve gone for so long without a human interplanetary spaceflight program to replace Apollo?  You bet!  But the robotic program is far more powerful and diverse than anyone in Kennedy’s day could have ever imagined.

I might be happier if the U.S. already had a human launch program to LEO in place and flying right now.  I would be happier (and this country’s techbase would be far more advanced) if Apollo had expanded into some kind of permanant presence on the moon at some point…similar to what we have now with the ISS.

But do I think that Kennedy’s vision is lost?  I have to admit that my answer to that is no.

But I’ll keep up the fight nonetheless.


~ by Bill Housley on May 23, 2011.

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