le Lun 2 Avr 2007 - 21:17
Voici ce qu'écrit David Portree au sujet de ce que devrait être la NASA (dans FPSPACE)
All things considered, NASA is not a big deal for policymakers and the public. The vast majority of U.S. citizens don't care what direction it
heads, so long as it stays mildly interesting (and doesn't appear to be getting too costly).
Big spaceflight dreams, technology development, science - they don't
really enter into it, except in the minds of a small minority of wacky characters like me (and others on this list), and people with turf to defend. At best, they excite interest for a short time, then it's on to something else. Bread and circuses.
NASA technology is not that highly advanced. It adapts technologies that
other folks develop. The CEV is not based on the latest and greatest
technologies - there's not enough budget for technology development. I'm not sure why this obvious fact is not clear - I realized it even before NASA folks started telling me about it. And, guess what, no one cares, really. No one is losing sleep over the limited number of U.S. flights these past four years, or the delay in ISS completion, or slips in the return-to-the-moon schedule.
NASA is not focusing on technology development right now - it's focusing
on doing what the Executive Branch has told it to do. Earth sciences are not
going by the boards because NASA is focusing on technology development, it's because NASA Earth science has annoyed this White House.
We've all read about the political obstacles Korolev faced (and created).
Something similar happens here.
Based on my interactions with the public vis-a-vis space these past 30
years, I can tell you that scientific discoveries excite people. They don't
change their lives, but people think they're cool. Just about any first is
exciting too. Landing on things is neat - planetary orbiters are hard to
Astronauts are neat - the wacko astronaut who drove to Florida in a diaper
is a big hit right now. Probably the top two major events of the past two
decades in space have been the John Glenn flight on the human side and the Pathfinder landing on the robotic side, at least in the view of most members of the public.
Almost no one is losing sleep over killer asteroids, and most people have
no idea who is on ISS (or even if anyone is on ISS). I doubt that a majority
of Americans know when a Shuttle is in space, and I know that most wouldn't be able to say anything about any given Shuttle mission. Even fewer know when a Chinese astronaut is in orbit. People are not afraid of Chinese space dominance.
The level of ignorance is appalling. But it's understandable. There are
many, many more important things for people to worry about - at least as judged by the vast majority of the public.
I mention all this because it's important to keep a sense of proportion.
David S. F. Portree
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