Momentus occasion ignored.
November 2, 2000 6:49 AM   Subscribe

Momentus occasion ignored. Well, mostly, or at least buried in the inner pages of most major U.S. pages. Isn't this sort of more important than the Knicks and Nets loosing their opening games? You wouldn't think so, since those stories were carried on the front pages on newspapers in the Northeast while this one was back on page 14 between two full page ads.
posted by rich (12 comments total)

The press is still pissed off over that whole Mars lander letdown. NASA's going to have to produce aliens or faster than light travel or a way to do that cool slow-motion Matrix effect on command to redeem itself. So get to it, NASA, or no press for you!

posted by frenetic at 7:19 AM on November 2, 2000

Ideally, you proletariat wouldn't have heard about this at all. Now my super-secret Orbital Weapons Platform isn't so secret any more.... well, back to using Black Helicopters, I guess. Darn.

But seriously, this story was hyped a bit more in some places -- I saw it a couple times on the morning TV news, and it's on the front page of
posted by aramaic at 7:21 AM on November 2, 2000

It may be on the front page of the, but it wasn't even in the actual paper today, and the launch was buried yesterday, even though they wrote an editiorial bemoaning the fact that the launch was being ingored by the press.

posted by rich at 10:59 AM on November 2, 2000

The whole space station project is underreported, and when it does make the news, it is usually represented only as an example of frivolous governmental expenditure and cost overruns. Or a chance to say nyah-nyah to the Russians when they are late with their modules.

Sometimes the most important things happen in the shadows and their significance is only noted later, in hindsight.

I predict that in the long run, this event will be vastly more significant than not only the outcome of a basketball game but the outcome of this presidential race.
posted by rushmc at 11:17 AM on November 2, 2000

If it's not rotating to the sound of a Strauss waltz and doesn't have a Howard Johnsons and a Pan Am departure lounge, I say to hell with it.
posted by lileks at 11:20 AM on November 2, 2000

Somebody throw Lileks a bone, OK?

I am soooo glad this happened before the year 2001 (the true millennium flip) rolled around. 1998 would have been even nicer, but hey. I do wonder whether it will indeed represent the beginning of continuous orbital habitation, though: I've been disappointed too many times. Now I've become so cynical that I chiefly see the space program as a political exercise that occasionally, given the right orientation of the planets (so to speak), produces great science.

I don't actually see the ISS as great science. I see its uses, but I'm not sure they're worth the money spent, particularly given the comparative bang-per-buck ratio of Mars landers, no matter how many times they flame out.
posted by dhartung at 11:45 AM on November 2, 2000

Thanks be to the net, where the term "front page" has little meaning and you can always find the news you want.

I was expecting the ISS a decade ago, so it's hard to get too excited about this, but I'm glad they've finally done it.

posted by Mars Saxman at 11:48 AM on November 2, 2000

I'm glad it's up there as well, but it just seems like Skylab 2 - something to do before the next phase of space exploration.

Maybe it's going to drop into Mir's orbit and challenge it to a drag race: that would be a natural candidate for a pay-per-view extravaganza. Miss the turn, spin out, and cartwheel into the sun.
posted by lileks at 11:57 AM on November 2, 2000

Well, I'm not sure if they've had to come up with any spectacular new technology for this particular project, but the investment in manned space travel over the past several decades has produced a lot of useful new technologies that benefit us more than the actual science performed.

As for the space station idea being so old, wasn't it delayed for a couple of years due to the Challenger explosion, by which time funding had become an issue again and caused more delays?
posted by daveadams at 1:00 PM on November 2, 2000

Space junkies, let me plug my friend's site, Universe Today. It didn't really dawn on me until now that it is basically a weblog (and it's been running for at least a few years now). Concise newsletter too.
posted by sylloge at 1:24 AM on November 3, 2000

The space station "idea" actually goes all the way back to before Apollo. The Air Force, especially, was interested in starting a Manned Orbiting Laboratory program, but that was quashed in a budget fight, and they were forced to support Apollo instead. Then NASA wanted a space station (first), then a shuttle, and a Mars mission. Congress took one look at the budget and said "None of the above", but Nixon threw them a bone in a shuttle-development program as long as they agreed to support the Air Force space program.

The need to launch Keyhole-size satellites forced an increase in shuttle program requirements, leading to more cost increases and delays. Then NASA ended up with an excessively expensive system as our only launch vehicle. That led to pressure to launch shuttles "on time", which led to Challenger, which led to the elimination of the Defense requirements, elimination of interplanetary probes' dependence on shuttle, and left shuttle without a real mission.

The Freedom proposal got a second wind when Bush proposed his space-station-then-Mars plan in 1989, but when NASA came back and said it'll cost a cool half-TRILLION Congress rightfully said they were smoking crack and that was that. NASA tried to scale down the station proposal, but it wasn't until the Clinton administration needed to play space diplomacy with Russia to keep them from selling missiles to Iran that we got ISS.
posted by dhartung at 7:41 AM on November 3, 2000

Wait, wait, wait. There are people in outer space?
posted by capt.crackpipe at 11:08 PM on November 6, 2000

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