Congratulations to SpaceX and NASA on making history today as the first private spacecraft docked with the International Space Station.
The space shuttle Atlantis touched-down on a runway in Florida at 2:59 am Pacific time this morning – the last time one of the shuttle fleet will do so. The fleet flew for 30 years: the first launch of a shuttle into orbit took place April 12, 1981.
The U.S.S.R. launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite to reach Earth orbit, on October 4, 1957, and it burned-up on re-entry on January 4, 1958. The first U.S. satellite, Explorer 1, was launched on January 31, 1958. The word “aerospace” was supposedly coined on February 2. The U.S. Congress created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on July 29, and NASA launched its first satellite, Pioneer 1, on October 11.
I was born on the last day of 1958. So, the U.S. space program and myself are about the same age. I was one of those kids that read science fiction stories about space travel. I followed the space program the way other kids followed baseball. I watched the first Apollo Moon landing on TV on July 20, 1969 (along with about 500 million other people). I watched the first shuttle launch on TV in a college classroom in ’81. And a few minutes ago I watched the last shuttle landing on TV – satellite TV.
Now I wonder – will I see U.S. astronauts go back into space in my lifetime?
In what may be the largest single act of C.Y.A. in the galaxy, NASA claims it intentionally crashed its latest mission into the surface of the Moon. The LCROSS Centaur rocket craft hit the Moon’s surface at approximately 4:30 Pacific time on Friday. Just a short time later a second NASA spacecraft also struck the surface, after passing through the ejected debris from the first crash.
NASA has been plagued with such failures in recent years, most spectacularly when a Mars lander crashed because the agency mis-calculated conversions from feet to meters. But this most recent event was passed-off as a “planned event” by NASA officials.
“We really meant to hit the Moon” a top NASA official said without requesting anonymity. “The second craft was designed to pass through the dust plume and search for signs of water. Really. This wasn’t a screw-up!”
The story was widely reported around the world, but was not accepted because as everyone knows there is no water on the Moon (even though it does reportedly resemble a “dirty beach”). NASA has become quite sensitive to such failures, especially since the Mars Spirit and Opportunity rover debacle, when the space agency predicted the rovers would last only weeks, but have in fact been operating for several years.