Virtual tour of Cape Canaveral.
July 2, 2006 7:04 AM   Subscribe

It may be fairly easy to question the politics around the US space program but I still think it was a great accomplishment. Great in a way we haven't been in a long time. Perhaps we needed the threat of the Soviets (or something like it) to keep us growing and not resting on our laurels. So while I don't think returning to fear and uncertainty is the way for us to go, healthy competition would certainly be welcome.

But I don't see it happening. Not for lack of opportunities (we'd rather argue about global climate change than actually do anything), but for lack of initiative.
posted by tommasz at 8:13 AM on July 2, 2006

Perhaps we needed the threat of the Soviets (or something like it) to keep us growing and not resting on our laurels.

Absolutely. If it wasn't for the competition from the USSR, the military-technological demonstrations of demonstrated might and the botched Bay of Pigs fiasco, it's highly unlikely that Kennedy would have pushed so hard for the moon landings, or even manned spaceflight in general. Johnson and Nixon just carried on with this politically advantageous momentum, with Nixon bringing us the foundations of the Shuttle program.

And the very concept of manned spaceflight was an uphill political battle all the way from the beginning, even to right now.

I'd like to wax very loquacious about - oh, lots of things about manned spaceflight and NASA - but I've been busy watching the very droll, dry and seemingly mundane live NASA TV feed for todays follow up launch attempt of the Shuttle after yesterday's scrubbed attempt.

That and simultaneously reading "Moon Shot", which warbles oddly between polished NASA party line blurbs, inside stories, gritty backhanded comments and even possible heresay.

It's weird to me to watch this launch attempt. If anything goes wrong it could be the last Shuttle launch attempt ever.

And even if all goes well, the Shuttle is going to be discontinued and pads 39A and 39B are probably going to be dismantled and deactivated for Shuttle use in just a handful of years anyway.

Going through the pictures of decaying, tiny launch pads, rusted infrastructure and overgrown blockhouses on that tour is an interesting complement to these thoughts.
posted by loquacious at 8:39 AM on July 2, 2006

Great site, lousy navigation. I never knew that there were so many different launch pad complexes. I went on a tour a few years ago, ok 20 years ago, and I think we only saw the Apollo and Shuttle stuff, oh and an alligator.
posted by Gungho at 8:48 AM on July 2, 2006

I took the "then and now" tour back in 2002 and found it to be the highlight of an enormous selection of sights and experiences at the Cape.

Cocoa beach was another - a much nicer beach than many others on that coast (especially Ft. Lauderdale!), and not nearly as busy. Empty, in fact.
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:25 AM on July 2, 2006

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