Friday, December 05, 2003
Barely two months away from another stilted and quasi-factual State of the Union speech and the snowy media landscape is already colorfully dotted with inflating trial balloons.
A gaudy one now rapidly expanding with gassy blasts from this morning’s Washington Post and the New York Times and with the reported involvement of the (uh-oh) Vice President and the Political Advisor concerns a, no doubt, militarized and Halliburton catered return to the Moon.
According to the Washington Post, the President's political dramatists:
Are considering a new lunar exploration program…as they sift ideas for a fresh agenda for the final year of his term…some aides appear to relish the idea of a "Kennedy moment" for Bush…"a lot of simultaneous efforts have been launched" in a quest for such an idea…aides are promoting big initiatives on the theory that they contribute to Bush's image as a decisive leader even if people disagree with some of the specifics. "Iraq was big. AIDS is big," the official said. "Big works. Big grabs attention."
L1 between Earth and the Sun
Buzz Aldrin, unconcerned with milking American myths for political advantage and, go figure, the second man on the Moon, knowledgably writes in a New York Times Op-Ed that the goal should not be the Moon’s “past glory” but one of Earth’s five Lagrange points:
L 1 would be the most sensible position for a base that would function as a test area and way-point for robotic flights as well as a support station and safe haven for human exploration of the solar system…and we can probably get it up and running for $10 billion to $15 billion, significantly less than the International Space Station.
It seems that if humanity wants to seriously begin exploring deeper into space, the Lagrange points are natural next steps after the realistic vehicular priorities are completed.
Sure I’d love to see a booming economy that would allow further Lunar exploration but I don’t think future advances in space travel will come at the bottom of another gravity well or through the endless big corporate largesse of this administration.
Space, as any enthusiast can tell you, is a completely deadly environment.
Cover art, 1st Edition 'Visible Light', 1986
Human habitation in space, even pure science under the most liberal guidance, would require extreme personal regimentation to ensure group survival.
I must candidly say that I would fear a Bush-flavored corporate militarization of any future near Earth population within, what would be from the start, heavily regimented habitable environments.
If we are to maintain American democratic values in space the President would be wise and blessed by History to maintain civilian command in that deadly off world environment.
In short, as some here in Kentucky say, “I ain’t gonna hold my breath!”
Though she has not written a major work in years I would highly recommend some of the science fiction novels of C. J. Cherryh to your attention.
Rimrunners, Cyteen, Downbelow Station or 40,000 on Gahenna, to name just a few, are excellent projections of what we could create, intentionally or not, and encounter out there in the inky void.
As long as I have waited for Sam Delany to publish the second volume to Stars In My Pockets Like Grains of Sand, it seems, I’ve waited for Ms. Cherryh to produce some large Compact Space encompassing volume.
He hasn’t and she hasn’t.
Perhaps some things are simply too large and grandiose to be accomplished by any being other than the most hubristic and dictatorial.
And, possibly, these sensitive writers couldn’t publish such material in the corporate dominated publishing environment that has merged into being over the last twenty years.
Images: Reuters, University of Montana, David A. Cherry