Monday, January 30, 2006

Have We Learned Anything?

Saturday was the 20th anniversary of the Challenger disaster. Jay Barbree's unavoidably pretentious piece on MSNBC has some significant observations:

No one had ever seen a more “politically correct” crew. It was a public relations dream, made to order for worldwide acclaim. You simply could not ask for more: two white women, an African-American man, an Asian-American man and three white men.

Second only to the politically correct stature of the flight team was the selection of a social science teacher from one of the bastions of America itself: New Hampshire. Sharon Christa McAuliffe was smart, experienced, courageous, had a smile big enough to adorn any magazine cover and was a brilliant selection by NASA for the coveted role of the planet’s “first citizen in space.”

H/T: Slashdot Science

The first word in "politically correct" reflects NASA's priority: politics. Politics above an authentic exploration of space; politics above human safety. Fundamental problem: the shuttle is not oriented toward a goal, but toward spreading government largesse (as Robert Zurbin observed). Squandered resources are the implicit goal, and tragically, it seems that human life is not exempt.

But is there any way for NASA to avoid upside-down priorities? As Robert Garmong wrote last year, "this politicizing is an unavoidable consequence of governmental control over scientific research and development." Space should be privatized.

There is no justification for the shuttle program, either scientific or explorational. As I've said before, the space shuttle is a high-tech way to kill astronauts.

Ms. McAuliffe and her crewmates (not to mention the doomed Columbia crew) were victims offered up as a holocaust to big-government politicization of space.

Haven't we learned anything from this tragedy?

Jay Barbree, "A chill at the Cape," (chapter 1 of 8).

Robert Zubrin, "Getting Space Exploration Right" The New Atlantis 8 (Spring 2005), 15-48.

Robert Garmong, "Privatize Space," The American Daily (July 21, 2005).

Previous Posts on Space

Documents on Space Shuttle Disasters.

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