questionsis anyone else bothered or saddened that the…

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Yes it does. My daughter was telling her friend the other day: "Did you know there was an airplane that could go up into space and come back again?" We had seen a picture of the shuttle on top a transport plane. Made me very nostalgic. And sad for her that she won't see a live launch, even on TV. We did go see a Titan rocket launch in January. It was awesome, but nothing like a shuttle.

It's an empty space -- literally.

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I sure am. I remember when that Series from BBC "The Planets" came out. I watched it over and over again and was so intrigued by everything. That series came out in 1999. Most of the footage and interviews were from years before. I still go back and watch it when it is on Netflix and am astonished, but saddened to know that everything I'm seeing came at the height of the space age 15-20 years ago.

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I work in the aerospace sector. You have no idea how much it pains me personally to see where things are and where they are headed. Not to mention how low the morale is among the people who could make those really cool things and great science happen. We've all come to the realization that for at least the next 15-20 years at least, there will be very little in the way of great discoveries or awe-inspiring missions. There are high hopes for things like the Curiosity rover, but that was conceived and budgeted years ago.

Nobody disputes that such things are expensive, least of all the people deisgning them. But it is sad to see that the exploration and science are seen as "extras" that are the first things to be cut in a budget crunch. Maybe it's just because it's what many of us grew up dreaming about and training for, but I don't tend to equate space science/exploration with the "morning Starbucks" of the national(US)/international budget, even if NASA is overly beauricrat-ized.

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I am both bothered and sadden. I moved to central Florida about 15 years ago. My first priority was to see the Shuttle launch. It took 6 years before I was finally able to go. As I watched that huge behemoth take off, I was filled with so many emotions. I remembered sitting in front of the black & white TV frozen in place enthralled with men able to make into space, I remembered looking up at the moon and asking the moon to take care of the men so that they could come back to their families. As all these memories assaulted me I was overwhelmed and started crying. I spontaneously started praising God for the creativity and ingenuity He has given man to accomplish whatever we set our minds to. My grandchildren will not see these wonders and it saddens me.

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Here is my hope....it is but a lull. I cannot get my mind around it being over. I have faith that we will again be shooting for the stars. The private sector seems to be taking the lead. If a profit can be made, we will keep moving outward!

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Well, let's be careful here - There's no USA publicly-funded rocket that can go into space, but private ones can go to the edge of space, and still China and Russia can reach low earth orbit on manned spacecraft.

It's just transitioning, or trying to at least, to more privately-funded ventures. I personally don't think we'll get as far as we need to as a species doing it purely privately (think about European New World exploration - that needed very heavy gov't involvement and funding to happen), but it's still there. And really, even launching satellites is still a very impressive achievement. Jet Propulsion Laboratory is also doing an amazing amount of unmanned exploration, we're leaving the heliosphere with a couple probes and learning more about what interstellar travel will have to deal with.

It's not nearly as inspiring as it should or could be, but at least there's still some stuff happening.

Also as a note - I too work in the aerospace sector.

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Some would rather pay for social programs and free stuff for lazy people rather than explore the heavens! I say fund the space program!

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So sad.. Flight (regardless of which side of the atmosphere) has always been my passion. I went to school to be an aerospace engineer, shortly there after announcements came rolling out that the space shuttle program was being axed (with no solid plans of a new shuttle) as well as experimental aircraft development budgets being slashed and huge cutbacks on fighter jet orders. I decided to switch out of aero into something that I felt had a better job market (chemical engineering) and it pains me everyday that I am not pursuing my passion.

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Given the space program has given us a lot of great discoveries and inventions, but think about what great discoveries and inventions occured in the beginning of the 20th century before space. That really was the golden age. Computers have allowed us to speed up our progress but nothing beats human imagination and ingenuity. I work in the space arena, but saw it coming. Too much money wasted, too little accountability. Let's start the next great age of discovery.

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@figgers3036: I have to agree. The space industry may be getting privatized, but it is in no way going away.

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@johnnys13: I think you're absolutely right and for that reason I don't think there will ever be a federally funded space program anywhere close to what it was.

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Honestly I wish we'd spend more time and money exploring the ocean- there's still so much there we haven't found and it's quite a bit cheaper than space exploration.

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I think this is just a pause. Wait for technology to break through a few more barriers and interest will spark all over again.

I also vote for oceanic exploration in the meantime. There's so much about our own planet we don't know.

@johnnys13: yep.

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@figgers3036: To be accurate, there is currently no US-government rocket to carry people into space, though totally private ones (from SpaceX) do go into space, and they are building a capsule to carry up to 7 people. Other American rockets could carry people, if there was a pressing need, as could some European rockets.

But in an ironic 'self-fulfilling prophecy' kind of way, the need for people in space is currently quite low. The fact that China and Russia continue to make manned spacecraft is more a reflection of their politics than anything else. WE could do it too, but WE don't have LEADERS! I note that PROgress is the Opposite of CONgress, but to be fair, the fault also is in our own hands, as We The People don't DEMAND anything better.

Space activities can transition to a privately-funded model. There is PLENTY of money to be made. But when there is no need to take actual risk in order to be rewarded, what is the incentive?

Solution: We The People must LEAD.

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@meems212: This song & video (when I was a teen) filled me with awe and my hope for the future was so bright. In my mind, the future and progress = space. It still does.

http://youtu.be/R5IA-xPGDB0

Just to chime in on this, I worked in aerospace for 7 years, but grew tired of the DoD good old boy network. Besides, my next employer flew me around in a Lear jet.

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It is rather staggering to think of how many people alive today have not been alive for a moon landing. This December will be the 40th anniversary of Apollo 17 - the last manned moon mission. Sure, the space shuttle was great and great work is being done at the ISS, but the last time we were at the moon, color TV was a novel concept that people were just starting to see in expensive stores and fuel injection was an exotic concept for race cars.

Add in the classic line about how a cell phone has more computational power than all of NASA when Apollo 11 landed...

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Yeah I was actually just saying to a friend the other day how it's sad that "I want to be an astronaut when I grow up" is no longer something kids say.

Only 50 years til Zefram Cochrane discovers warp drive, though!

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@rlapid2112: Thank you that was really nice. I heard plenty about the "good old boys" some called it the "welfare" program for them, and how some without even a H.S. diploma were making more than those with degrees. I hope you get to fly in style for a long time.

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@meems212: Well, they were done with me before the turn of the century. I am self-employed and crawling out of this recession. My days of flying are limited to driving with the top down on my Miata.

Back on topic: I barely remember the Apollo missions, but I remember the Viking missions better. The day the lander (Viking 2) reached Mars, I was at my grandma's house and was watching from the safety of my blankets in case Ray Bradbury was right. The announcers/talking torsos were surprised that it wasn't as red as was expected.

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Are any of you aware of the spaceship company founded by Richard Branson? They are currently attempting to make space travel available to the public (if you can afford it lol).

http://www.thespaceshipcompany.com/about/who_we_are

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I was able to schedule one family vacation to WDW around a shuttle launch so the entire family could see it. We joined about a hundred strangers in the parking lot of a hotel near the Space Center in the early morning hours. When we listened to the countdown, broadcast over someone's radio, 100 strangers suddenly seemed like family. It was incredible.

One of my favorite stories from early days of the space program was about Alan Shepard, the first American to fly into space. When reporters asked Shepard what he thought about as he sat atop the Redstone rocket, waiting for liftoff, he replied, 'The fact that every part of this ship was built by the low bidder."

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yep. I am both bothered AND saddened...
Just another sign of the decline. Most major nations and empires last longer than 230 years before entering their decline, but at least it will be interesting to watch.

a couple of points:

It's sad that my kids will probably be the last generation to experience America as we knew it.

"The right stuff" is probably one of my favorite movies of all time.

edit: one thing that encourages me to think that there may still be a chance to turn things around is all the combat veterans who are returning home... Within a decade we should see at least 50-60 of them elected to congress, and a good number to state and local offices as well. Hopefully they will put a stop to all the BS going on today.

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I agree. It is sad that the US space program is lacking the ability to put people into space. I grew up wanting to be an astronaut. That dream led me to my career as an aerospace engineer (designing airplanes, but that's mostly because I discovered a love of aerodynamics in college...not a lot of air in space). I still dream of some day going into space. But I know a lot of people don't share that dream as much anymore. Even when I went to Space Camp a few years ago (adult program), less than half of my team really had dreams of being a part of the space program.

One of the things that saddens me the most is wondering what innovations we will be missing out on due to not having as big a space program. So many of the things that we take for granted in our every day lives came either directly or indirectly out of the space program. The miniaturization of electronics, polar fleece material, velcro being mainstream to name just a few.

Sometimes I think what we need is another cold war.