Sic Transit Gloria Americanus?

By Proof

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I wasn't planning on writing about this today, but the fading glory of our space program moves me to write. In 1977, Jerry Pournelle wrote about the "2007 expedition to Ceres". The old Buck Rogers TV show spoke of the "last of NASA's deep space probes in 1987". The last?? when was the first???

Robert Heinlein spoke of the expectation that many of us had growing up of the inevitability of space travel. In 1949, he wrote in the preface to "The Man Who Sold the Moon":

" (the stories)...are of the "What-would-happen-if" sort, in which the "if", the basic postulate of each story, is some possible change in human environment latent in our present day technology or culture. Sometimes the possibility is quite remote; sometimes the postulated possibility is almost a certainty, as in the stories concerned with interplanetary flight."

Did you get that? In 1949, R.A. Heinlein considered interplanetary flight "almost a certainty".

How did we get from the first Model A Ford to the first walk on the moon in forty two years and from the first walk on the moon to the last flight of the shuttle program in exactly the same time?

And perhaps, more importantly, how do we get back?

Cross posted at Proof Positive


  1. Excellent, excellent post! This is a subject on which both conservatives and liberals ought to find common ground.

  2. How did we get from moon landing to cancellation? We nationalized space travel. Privatize it, recognize property rights on the moon and planets, homesteading rights, and it could have been and still can be wonderful.

  3. Linked both Proof Positive and LCR at RN USA.

    Shane - Excellent points!

  4. "How did we get from moon landing to cancellation? We nationalized space travel." There's gotta be more to it than that. We "nationalized" space travel from Goddard to the moon and it worked out pretty well for us.

    Still there ought to be plenty of room for private enterprise to fund and conduct their own exploration.


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