28 March 2011

If a rocket didn’t carry people into space any more…

For those of a certain age, the American space program and the race to the moon remains one of our most cherished childhood memories.

For other people of a certain age, though, that is all ancient history.

They can easily remind you that a human being first set foot on the moon 42 years ago this summer.  He flew along with two comrades in a cramped spaceship that couldn’t be used again after the flight.

Thirty years ago, Americans started using a re-usable space plane to go into orbit and bring back not just three men, but a half dozen men and women on every flight.

2011 will mark the end of the American manned space program, at least as far as launches from the United States go. The shuttle program will end this summer. The planned return to the moon and eventual Mars missions are scrapped.  Anyone, Americans included, headed to the International Space Station will have to fly on Russian rockets.

When a rocket from the United States doesn’t carry anyone into space any more, will anyone notice?

- srbp -

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