Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

What Goes Up Must Come Down and Surely Has a Point…?

So, that’s the end of the shuttle thing. Phew.

Maybe it would be different if I lives in the States, but from my perspective, my lasting images of the shuttle programme are the shuttle disasters when people were blown to smithereens for science.

I don’t think it was worth it.

All very well for JFK to come up with a national aim to inspire people, but when they got to the moon… it was a cold and lonely place, except for when it was a hot and lonely place.

We’ve littered space with debris, lost a good few probes on the way to Mars and spent a fortune.

And what for?

Well, I love the images sent back by Cassini – for example: NASA – Saturn Northern Storm in Infrared and Visible Light.
But that can’t be it. And we got the movie Apollo 13, which I enjoyed.

So I feel I am missing “the point” of space travel.

I keep thinking of Icarus and a very obscure Garth Hewitt song:

They’re flying tonight, fresh from outer space

There’s saliva on their lips, they’ve got madness on their face

The search it made them crazy, it finally drove them wild

Their eyes gleam with the fury, their sanity defiled:

They tried to touch the sun

They sought the Holy Grail

Icarus could have told them

Waxen wings will fail, they’ll always fail.

The Space Programme may well be hailed as a success, but I can’t see past the two disasters. But then I am risk averse. I assume those that went into the shuttles thought it would be worth it, even if it did end in disaster.

What have we gained, practically, from space exploration? I assume we have, and that I am just ignorant of the benefits.

If you know, let me know. Thanks.


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18 thoughts on “What Goes Up Must Come Down and Surely Has a Point…?

  1. It has always been the nature of mankind to find what is out there. First we crossed our own lands, then the oceans, then new lands. We go beneath the sea, beneath the land, into the stars. Next stop, Mars. It’s what we do.

    The pioneers of every generation knew that what they did was dangerous, but they did it anyway, and they made it easier for the rest of us to follow.

    The men who made the first moon landing did it with a computer smaller, capacity-wise, than the one you are using now. Benefits can’t be known before the exploration starts; but they always follow.

    We should all be spending on space exploration. Someday, our descendants will need a new place to live.

  2. Rickster on said:

    “We need a solution, we need salvation,
    Let’s send some people to the moon and gather information.

    They brought back a big bag of rocks.
    Only cost thirteen billion. Must be nice rocks.”

    Larry Norman – Reader’s Digest

  3. Well, I’m in the states and I see it as wasteful too. I mean, the economy being the way it is, people are skipping on vacation and here the government is, going to the moon, Saturn or wherever.

    Though, as I understand it, they’re testing for ways humans can live there, being that earth is getting kinda screwed up. I think I’m just gonna hang out here instead 🙂

  4. Let me drag my jaw up off the floor for a moment….

    There have been over 135 Shuttle missions and only two resulted in tragedy. I am 100% sure that the astronauts felt the risk was worth it, both to them personally and to pushing forward the boundaries of knowledge and engineering. I was was given the chance to go, i’d snap it up. If human beings didn’t take risks, we’d never do anything. There would be no human achievement. Have you seriously considered the risks of taking the car to the shops? I’d check out the stats on that if I were you.

    If you want to get into economics then in the case of the Apollo programme, for every $1 spent, $14 came back into the US economy. I presume there are probably similar results for the Shuttle programme. Scientific research is shockingly undervalued; in the UK public funding for science and engineering is around 0.6% of GDP whereas the economic benefits gained are approximately 30% of GDP. Quite a discrepancy.

    The benefits of exploratory research (whether in petri dishes or space shuttles) are much, much greater than most people realise. Apart from satisfying the actual question you are asking, there are inumerable knock on effects. You can post this Blog article as the result of a side project at CERN. Other side projects involve medical radio isotopes and PET scanners, pretty useful.

    We didn’t just go to the moon, hit a couple of golf balls and then skip home. We are still finding out important things about our satellite (and consequently the Earth) from the samples they brought home and the experiments they left behind. Everything we discover about our planetary neighbours teaches us something about ourselves (didn’t you watch Wonders of the Solar System?).

    Carl Sagan can say it better than I can: “The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky. ”

    I also invite you view what Brian Cox has to say on the subject:

    • I’m all in favour of serendipity.
      Thanks for the video clip – although my unscientific brain lost the thread of it at about nine minutes.
      Thanks for your thoughts on this.
      (Click on Tilly Bud above – I think you’d like her post on this topic)

      • Well see if I’d known to read that *first* I wouldn’t have had to write anything at all. Lovely post.

    • I am glad you liked it -but also very glad you put together your case for the pro-space side of things.

  5. With this view, you could say what was the point of climbing Mt Everest? Or plumbing the depths of the ocean? Why get out of bed in the morning at all? If man fails to strive to better themselves what is the point of anything including faith? When Yuri Gagarin went up in the first manned spacecraft his remark on the view was: “I see no God” When Buzz Aldrin spoke at Mearns Castle High School he claimed the sights he saw proved the existence of God. There are many, many inventions that we take for granted that have revolutionised. Not least The Space Shuttle fixed The Hubble Telescope which gave us much greater view of our universe. Modern telecommunications are thanks to telecommunications satellites repaired and serviced by the space shuttle. The USA’s Star Wars laser satellite program annoyed the Russians but sped up revolution in the USSR and led to a safer world.

    If you think none of this is important there’s always Bacofoil which was developed for the Apollo missions.

    • Yup – I can’t see the point in going up Everest. And even snorkelling isn’t my thing. The fish have big teeth!
      No trouble getting out of bed in the morning, though.
      What is the point of anything? – “That the powerful play goes on – and you may contribute a verse”, for one.
      I am pleased about the bacofoil, though.
      Thanks for your thoughts Scotstig!

  6. You posed a really good question, one that I could not answer off the top of my head, however as the wife of a nuclear scientist and the daughter of a naturalist scientist, I knew there had to be good answers to your question. So, I googled the question and found some amazing answers:

    bar codes, pacemakers, TV satellite, Black and Decker cordless products, ski boots,
    Artificial limbs, Dialysis, MRIs and Cat scans, breast cancer screening.

    A miniaturized ventricular-assist pump has been successfully implanted into several people. Initially called the NASA/DeBakey heart pump, it is based in part on technology used in space shuttle fuel pumps.

    Building the Boeing 777 brought about the use of NASA innovations, from lightweight composite materials to the modern glass cockpit and aircraft control systems.

    I kept discovering more and more about the value of the space program so I decided to post a link where you can explore more ways in which we have benefitted from the space program. We use things everyday that are a direct result of space exploration! Check out this link, then follow to other links. Amazing!


  7. Wow, you sparked quite some commentary. I related to what you said, I know that all these wonderful inventions came about with the space program unfortunately as you said so did tragedy. As usual enjoyed your post.

  8. As people who have resentments or phobias about telephones, we make sense when we admit our lack of preference for space debris raining on us, especially when that debris is partly composed of human remains, however, as people who love to write and to blog, we must, we MUST, be thankful for the pioneers who made it possible. Sighs.

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