Friday, July 1, 2011

The End of the Space Age

I thought that THIS article in The Economist today, titled, "The end of the Space Age," was very interesting because it didn't just focus on the prohibitive cost going forward.  Written in anticipation of the last launch of the space shuttle next week, it reads in part:

"But the shuttle is now over. The ISS [International Space Station] is due to be de-orbited, in the inelegant jargon of the field, in 2020. Once that happens, the game will be up. There is no appetite to return to the moon, let alone push on to Mars, El Dorado of space exploration. The technology could be there, but the passion has gone—at least in the traditional spacefaring powers, America and Russia... The space cadets’ other hope, China, might pick up the baton... But the date for doing so seems elastic... Moreover, even if China succeeds in matching America’s distant triumph, it still faces the question, 'what next?'... With luck, robotic exploration of the solar system will continue. But even there, the risk is of diminishing returns. Every planet has now been visited, and every planet with a solid surface bar Mercury has been landed on."

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