Monday, July 13, 2009

Space Travel in a Recession

Technicians began filling shuttle Endeavour's fuel tank on Monday for a fifth attempt to deliver a Japanese-built porch and spare parts to the International Space Station. The mission, one of the longest and most complex NASA has attempted, has been delayed a month by fuel leaks and bad weather.

Liftoff was set for 6:51 p.m. EDT (2251 GMT) on Monday, though the weather again may be an issue. Meteorologists predicted a 60 percent chance thunderstorms and nearby rain will keep the shuttle grounded another day.

"We're going to give it a shot," said NASA spokesman Allard Beutel.

In preparation for launch, technicians began pumping more than 500,000 gallons (1.9 million litres) of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the shuttle's tank shortly before 10 a.m. (1400 GMT). The fuel will be consumed by the shuttle's three main engines during the 8.5-minute ride to orbit. If it rains in the hours before the launch, NASA may opt to call off the launch attempt because water could seep inside one of the shuttle's steering thrusters, possibly creating problems when it would be fired up in space to maneuver the shuttle.


I have never been a huge fan of NASA. I understand that venturing to places throughout the solar system is important. We should, as a country, be on a constant quest for knowledge. The aforementioned quest should extend beyond the Earth, but at what cost? NASA's budget is huge and our country is in a recession. I don't think it would be unreasonable for NASA to temporarily suspend or limit is operations for a few months. Granted, the NASA budget pales in comparison to the exorbitant military budget. I just think that some of the money that goes towards space discovery and "promoting democracy" could be redistributed to the ailing segments of our society. The Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services could really use some extra cash.

Although I disagree philosophically with the level of funding NASA is receiving, I hope its employees are able to make their missions worthwhile. "Blast Off" by The Isley Brothers and R.Kelly is my favorite space themed song. In case you were wondering, Ronald Isley is scheduled to be released from prison on April 13, 2010.

To the clouds (To the clouds)
Touch the sky (Straight to the sky)

Girl you send me, send me, send me, send me

While we're making love

Touch the stars (We'll touch the stars)

Past the moon ( Go way past the moon )

Send me, send me, send me , send me