It was now or not for 200 years,
November 8, 2001 5:48 AM   Subscribe

It was now or not for 200 years, and it was starting to look like it wouldn't be for another 200 years with the initial exploration funding cutbacks by Bush & Co. But reason has prevailed in the house and senate, and a Pluto mission is back in the plan. I never did find out why Bush opposed this mission. Maybe he thought that $30 million was too extravagent for a trip to Disneyland.
posted by holycola (18 comments total)

 
"That's weird, what is pluto anyway?" "Is he a dog?"

Commentary on bush and preps to uncle Willie? hehe.

America with all that's going on today needs a booster of some kind. Space has always been very good at that. U.S. should try to land people on the moon again, bring along a firefighter or something. Imagine, all the way from the moon, flipping off Osama Bin Laden to national tv, telling him he'll never reach here because he's an incopetent bastard.
posted by tiaka at 5:56 AM on November 8, 2001


I'd like to think that we'd go back to the moon and beyond for more important reasons than flipping Osama the bird. When I was 8, I thought I'd be living on Mars by now climbing up the side of Mons Olympus and eating Space Food Sticks[tm], not sitting on my ass in front of a computer terminal all day. Dammit, get busy you space slackers!
posted by MrBaliHai at 6:40 AM on November 8, 2001


Your comment on Disneyland made me laugh out loud. Good thing I wasn't drinking milk or it would have come out my nose. :)

(is it early or what?)
posted by MeetMegan at 6:40 AM on November 8, 2001


$30 Million seems like a drop in the bucket compared to the dollars we're now dropping on Afganistan in bomb form. We could have reached Pluto sooner--all we'd have need to do is tell Reagan that Commies lived there.
posted by owen at 7:44 AM on November 8, 2001


The rush to Pluto-Charon is due to its eccentric orbit (in addition to the gravity assist problem discussed at length in the linked article): in a few years the planet will be too far from the sun (too cold) and the atmospheric gases will crystallize out. The orbit of pluto will not bring it close enough to the sun for an atmosphere to form for about two centuries. The composition of the atmosphere would tell us a lot about the composition of Pluto-Charon.

In addition, it would be nice to get a closer look at the Kuiper Belt Objects. The relationship of Pluto-Charon to the KBOs is currently the source of much debate.

A summary of why people are interested in Pluto.
posted by iceberg273 at 7:46 AM on November 8, 2001


It's always irked me that planetary exploration has taken a back seat to the (pretty much useless) International Space Station. The space station is fraught with problems: budgetary overruns, design issues, and questionable scientific aims. It made me angry that NASA could bitch about $30 million being too much for a Pluto mission, but then speak of cost overruns on ISS in the billions of dollars.

I wonder what Robert Zubrin could do with the billions currently being squandered on the ISS.
posted by mrmanley at 10:24 AM on November 8, 2001


I wonder what Robert Zubrin could do with the billions currently being squandered on the ISS.

Waste it on a couple manned missions to Mars and then abondoning it after the money runs out, instead on focusing on more realistic goals like putting a permanent base on the nearby moon.
posted by skallas at 11:28 AM on November 8, 2001


It's all possible when it comes down to it. Priorities differ from official to official, scientist to scientist, enthusiast to enthusiast. But when reduced down to whether all of it could be done in concert. It most certainly could.

Planning and design would come relatively cheaply, as most all would be done at universities and be doled out among the spacefaring nations and various agencies.

ISS would become what it's doubtless able to be retrofitted for -- zero g ship yard. Once on the moon the costs associated with launch and deployment of further explorations would also be greatly reduced as escape velocity is a sixth of what it is on Earth.

Granted I'm just a yammerin' humans-in-space idealist.

I find the "flipping Osama the bird" argument most provocative. I like it. I'll tell you why. To bin Laden and the rest of them (Fallwells, Dobsons, religious zealots the world over), getting to the moon, Mars, Titan, Jupiter's moons etc., would in fact be one grand flipping of the bird, exemplifying secular human innovation, intellect, desire, spirit and awe.
posted by crasspastor at 12:00 PM on November 8, 2001


crasspastor:

You said it better than me.
posted by mrmanley at 12:46 PM on November 8, 2001


To bin Laden and the rest of them (Fallwells, Dobsons, religious zealots the world over), getting to the moon, Mars, Titan, Jupiter's moons etc., would in fact be one grand flipping of the bird, exemplifying secular human innovation, intellect, desire, spirit and awe.


How is this secular, because the church or a theocracy didn't do it? If I were a religious zealot I would make the same cries of greatness from the world's greatest Christian nation or quote statistics on the number of Christians in government and in NASA. They can put spin on NASA just as well you can.

When people look back to the moon landing, no one I know thinks "Great Secular achievement." I think the consensus is that it was an amazing politically driven achievement.
posted by skallas at 1:36 PM on November 8, 2001


skallas:

A thousand years from now (if humankind hasn't managed to kill itself off by then) the first moon-landing will be remembered. The political reasons behind the moon landing will probably be long forgotten. The Pioneer and Voyager missions, the Viking lander on Mars, were pinnacles of human exploration. Whatever their motivations were, their achievements belong to Homo Sapiens, not to any particular country or creed.

That said, I note that America did these things. The Pioneers, Voyagers, and Apollo spacecraft carry the US flag on them, and were paid for by American taxpayers. These things were secular in the sense that, as a group, the American public didn't do these things to serve some God -- we did it because it was cool and because we could.
posted by mrmanley at 2:12 PM on November 8, 2001


That's all fine and well skallas. However, prayer and tea-leaf reading don't put cures in brown prescription bottles of western medicine. Belief in what's written on ancient parchment doesn't put airplanes into the sky (crash them sure), navigable by modern instrument alone. Creationism doesn't change the fact of the fossil record. You can believe all you want your religious brand inspired all this. But when the physics of push come to shove, those who pray before innovate have done nothing more than blithely subscribe an uncooperative reality to their standards.
posted by crasspastor at 2:16 PM on November 8, 2001


I still don't see how secular humanism has anything to do with space exploration. It seems youre the one with the hot button issues, crass. Is there some religious group attacking exporation and NASA? Sounds like your putting some pro-atheism spin on something that's much more political than anything else.

You can go on about the spirit of the human will and science for as long as you like, but I don't think public perception or any non-prejudiced perception of these events is an us vs. them mentality focused on religion.

Its okay to put down the Dawkins book now.
posted by skallas at 2:49 PM on November 8, 2001


A thousand years from now the first moon-landing will be remembered. The political reasons behind the moon landing will probably be long forgotten.

Then the future will be sad and ignorant of its own past, umm only condemned to repeat it right? I don't see why politics, nationalism, and the space race should or could be fogotten.
posted by skallas at 2:51 PM on November 8, 2001


exemplifying secular human innovation,

Still wonder why W isn't interested?
posted by phoenix enflamed at 3:39 PM on November 8, 2001


Actually I'm not spinning anything. Or more so, I continually spin everything pro atheist. Therefore I'm not really qualifying anything that I say to fit certain constructs of philosophy. It's just the way I am: humanist/atheist.

I wouldn't have directed my posts in this fashion weren't for the opening line of:

Imagine, all the way from the moon, flipping off Osama Bin Laden to national tv, telling him he'll never reach here because he's an incopetent bastard.

I expounded on the sentiment. I did so because I think it's true. Or better yet, I think it's okay to think like that. Fuck you very much, I say to those who would prefer to rape and illigitimize the bonafide factor in any technologcial advancment--that is us Humans. Our creativity. Our dreams.

Some humans destroy, create and maintain fear and hate and believe gods think highly of them for adhering so steadfast. The one endeavor where no matter how much god you believe in, no matter how often you usually aren't too busy to forget to face Mecca, no matter whether you righteously tithe your 10%, these things do not apply. This is ingenuity. And there's nothing ingenious in following ancient prescripts while aiming for the good of humanity to reach the stars. That's why most who dedicate and dabble in this "calling" don't simultaneously do the same with religion.

I'll keep my Bronowski, Ingersoll, Russell, Hoffer and perhaps even Dawkins very close at hand thank you. They speak for me. And I feel ultimately, they speak for humanity too.
posted by crasspastor at 4:25 PM on November 8, 2001


The one endeavor where no matter how much god you believe in, no matter how often you usually aren't too busy to forget to face Mecca, no matter whether you righteously tithe your 10%, these things do not apply.

What about putting your differences aside and working together. I'm sure NASA consists of people of many faiths and non-faiths, you seem to be stuck on the issue that there's some great justification for not being an extreme because of the space program. I think extremism in any form is obviously wrong to the unprejudiced eye.

Or more so, I continually spin everything pro atheist.

I guess prejudice and bias comes in many forms.
posted by skallas at 4:48 PM on November 8, 2001


What about putting your differences aside and working together.

And I can do that too. Many of us can. It gets difficult when your god cancels out another's and you believe it to be so. I don't believe it. Therefore, I can work with all people.

I guess prejudice and bias comes in many forms.

I suppose it does. If you give it any stock and you let it interfere with personal and professional relationships. I don't. It is my humble opinion and I'd really like it if some of these true believers looked at themselves and said "Hey. It's just my opinion too." "We're all human here. Just because you don't share my born again christian views doesn't mean we don't have our humanity in common."

Yet alas, that's very difficult, because the majority of the time those who feel that powerfully effected by religious experience and rhetoric are in life for one thing: Proselytizing and doing the will of those with deeper spiritual understandings.
posted by crasspastor at 4:59 PM on November 8, 2001


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