Something to consider: When I was a child, it was quite common for “Astronaut” to be listed by kids as their hopeful future, along with policeman, firefighter, doctor, etc.
Today, though, I don’t hear about it very much from kids, not even on TV. The space shuttle is old news and retired, and unless an astronaut hitches a ride from another country, no US astronauts are headed to space.
Why is this?
Personally, it seems to me that everyone should be anxious to get humans actively into space and building there, whether in near earth orbit, on the moon, or other planets.
The benefits to commerce would seem to be astounding-production in lower gravity situations should only help make production easier, as well as storage that is unaffected by gravity. All pollution related to industry could be channeled out “into the void” and away from the planet, which should please the environmentalists to no end. The scientific community may find that experimentation on everything from physics to chemistry works in different ways outside of the influence of a gravity well.
Socially, endeavors into space cause hope and pride in many citizens. If the poorest citizen could imagine themselves possibly shipping off to help settle space, wouldn’t that at least distract them from seeking entertainment enough for them to focus on achieving such an idea?
So, where is the outcry to get the US back into space? Every time I have brought it up it comes back to cost. It costs too much for little return.
Little return? Minerals, jobs, heck, there’s a moon made almost entirely of water out there. What about those environmentalists and their desire to reduce pollution? Gather all the trash up and place it in your local mass driver and launch it towards the sun. If you’re worried about that, simply send it out to settle into the Oort Cloud or something.
Ok, so there’s an investment. We know there are ways to reduce the transportation costs. Once that hurdle is overcome, the rest should be easy, in my mind. Let’s build a space elevator and get on with it. Let’s get people’s imagination and pride fired up and see what our nation can do.