25th anniversary of the Challenger disaster.
On the 25th anniversary of the disaster, where we lost six astronauts and a schoolteacher, we can reflect on what has been accomplished since.
President Reagan and NASA officials elected to press on, and build a new shuttle to replace Challenger. They elected to continue the human-crewed space program despite the risks. Eventually, we got an International Space Station built, a Space Telescope launched and serviced three times since, and a host of other accomplishments. It has been expensive, but worthwhile.
Now here we are in 2011. Our space plans and hopes are focused on some commercial operators continuing with human-crewed flights to the ISS and beyond. There is discussion of building some booster or other to keep NASA employees busy. But this seems misguided.
Here is my humble opinion of what we need to do, and it will not cost much.
NASA should go ahead and build the planned Orion Crew Transport and Ares boosters. This should be viewed and deployed as a baseline project. A project that will keep American astronauts flying. And also one that will establish standards and methods that should freely be given to American space companies for use in their own projects, as well as those of friendly nations. This way, we can keep our astronauts flying, assist the private companies, and establish long-term standards for equipment, booster and life support technologies and the like – thus granting humanity access to space for the foreseeable future.
Don’t we owe it to those astronauts who have given their lives to at least keep a government-run flight program running, however miniscule? How hard can it be, especially since major components are in the pipeline, such as a J2-X engine upgrade that was recently tested (posted on spacedaily website). Let the commercial companies develop, but allow the government take the lead in establishing common standards, especially in the realm of safety and life support. This will give the commercial operators someplace to occasionally turn to for help.
Let it not be said that the Challenger Seven gave their lives in vain. Let’s keep American Astronauts flying in American-built spacecraft. Thanks for reading.