Perchance To Dream

I’m still ignoring current politics (for the most part). I just don’t have the energy to dive into that particular cesspool, let alone try to tread water and swim…

My goal, as far as this blog (and my writing in general) is concerned, is for readers to never really know just where I am on the political “spectrum”. That is, to be honest, a pretty freeing thing as far as the ideas and dynamics I get to use in my stories. It also lets me play with assumptions and preconceptions*. I can use scenes and incidents as a bit of a Rohrshach Test to let people read in their own answers.

*I ran across this story/research on assumptions once, and it still is one of the best things ever – click the link and give it a read!

A separate part of the problem is that I don’t really fit all that neatly anywhere on the spectrum. I believe things from many different “camps”, and value things that occasionally set me at odds with even those who generally share my worldview.

*shrug*

What the fuck…it keeps life interesting and entertaining, at the very least. And, by definition, anyone who agrees with me 100% of the time is completely nuts anyway. Groucho had it right: I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would admit someone like me!

But…this post is something of a but.

Since I’m writing sci-fi* at the moment, I thought I would (should?) say a bit of something on plans and directions for the US space program for the next several years.

*It definitely ain’t hard sci-fi…I could actually set it in a current, modern city and get away with it, but by doing sci-fi for Connor’s stories, I get to exaggerate and emphasize certain problems and crises I see in modern western society and culture.

The elephant in the room, at this point, is climate and Earth-monitoring so I’ll start there. I know this will set some people off right away, but bear with me: I don’t actually see a problem with transferring the vast bulk (if not all) of those tasks to the NOAA. That is the NOAA’s mission, after all.

It does not mean those satellites and missions are going away – were that case, then there would be a real problem. But by putting them completely under the agency most responsible for analyzing and using the data, I think there can be some legitimate savings and advantages. There can also be a a greater level of recognition (and accountability) for what the NOAA does. That is a good thing.

To be honest, the more important part of this argument is, for me, about NASA itself. That space agency, once so geared to exploration and expanding the reach and grasp of human knowledge and endeavor, has become far too limited and narrow.

I would dearly love to see NASA leave near-Earth orbit (for the most part – certainly not completely) to the burgeoning private enterprises. The basic foundation has been laid – much like with the US highway system – now it is time to let the UPSes and FedExes and Amazons of the future develop and grow.

To be honest, I think the only way we will ever see near-Earth orbit and the LaGrange points develop the way sci-fi has been dreaming of for sixty-plus years is for creative, aggressive and ambitious folks to figure out how to make a buck up there…

The other benefit is “freeing” NASA to focus 100% on what it does best: pushing the envelope. A big reason why I want to see the monitoring and orbital stuff taken out of their bailiwick is so they can turn their attention and energy to exploring outside of Earth’s orbit. Manned missions focusing on the moon and Mars (at present). Asteroid mapping and exploration in order to eventually open the gates to mining, as well as adding a further “jump off” point for outer system exploration and development.

And then the really exciting stuff: the outer system missions.

New Horizons should be a starting point for Kuiper Belt and trans-Neptunian objects, not an end.

More missions to Jupiter and Saturn. No, really…please, more missions to Jupiter and Saturn!

Missions to Uranus and Neptune (neither of which we have, in so many words, so much as scratched the surface of).

More spaceborne telescopes and observatories for deep space work. Shit, I recently spent a couple hours obsessing over the images from HR 8799. Yes, I know, they were mostly from Keck, but still…direct imaging of an extra-solar system! That gives me a serious nerd-stiffie.

In the end, I want NASA to use and build on what it has done very, very well. Crap, the Mars rovers are fucking All-Stars at minor league prices. And don’t even get me started on Cassini and Galileo…

Once we accept that the way things are working in space has to change and grow (and I think most, if not all, can agree on that), then all that remains is to work out the details.

And to dream…always to dream, and always to reach farther…

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