Friday, October 15th, 2010

image of the moon

I just finished reading Dark Side of the Moon, a book about Nasa’s lunar landing project. I feel it is safe to say that author Gerard DeGroot, a science writer from Scotland, is no friend of America’s manned space program, or any other country’s.

Time out: What, by the way, is a shorthand way to say “a project to send people into space” that doesn’t sound girl-hating and old fashioned? Because “crewed space program” sounds just like “crude space program,” so that’s out, and “peopled space program” sounds as clunky as “a project to send people into space,” so there’s no way I’m using that, either. I need something here. Help me out.

Space, DeGroot feels, is better explored by robots, and any journey made to the moon, other planets, or the stars is just a stunt, devoid of any greater meaning at all. I’m not going to claim he’s wrong about the robots. I think it’s way cool to send robots into space because, you know, robots! But he’s a tad bit depressing when it comes to expressing his thoughts on personal space exploration (okay, that sounds stupid, too; I’m not using that either), which he does incessantly, the message being that it’s pointless, worthless, and not a little egotistic.

I’m on his side when he argues it costs way too much, but I’m pretty sure it’ll always cost way too much. I don’t see a way of cutting back unless and until people start building space ships in space so they can cut back on the commute up out of Earth’s gravity well, a part that adds quite a lot of expense. But they’ll always have to go back to get food, water and air, so it’s a modest savings.

But I’m not entirely with him when he says it’s pointless, far too dangerous and, when it comes down to it, little more than a stunt performed only to make people look good. All of that describes parachuting off the edge of a cliff, and yet people seem to be doing more of that, not less. It’s not that I think Nasa ought to fire up the rockets and start shooting guys off to the moon again, but people are going to go into space. There are a bunch of them in orbit right now, and they’ll keep going, so obviously it’s worth something to somebody. It’s worth something to me; I’d go in a second if I had twenty million dollars in spare change.

Still and all, Dark Side of the Moon was a great read, even if only to have read a book that wasn’t all gung-ho or gaga about rockets. But it was also worth it to read quite a few moonshot stories I hadn’t read before. Recommended.

Dark Side of the Moon | 10:30 pm CST
Category: books, entertainment, hobby, play, space geekery
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