JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: REACH FOR THE STARS? APOLLO 11 NONSENSE   Leave a comment

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY SUMITRA ROJAGOPALAN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Reach for the stars? What does that mean?

This piece is a pile of tired newspaper clichés.

Stunning as it was, the landing on the moon was in many ways the least important event of the space age.

I am a great fan of science and exploring space, but the moon landing was a gigantic, unbelievably costly public-relations stunt.

The robot missions Europe and the US have sent to the planets in recent decades have made astounding discoveries, as have the magnificent telescopes and other exotic instruments placed into earth orbit.

We have completely revolutionized our understanding of the cosmos with these missions.

Apollo was a one-off dead-end project, immensely impressive like a gigantic fireworks display, but the actual hard science of the Apollo mission(s) was minimal, nothing that robots could not have done far better and far more cheaply.

When I was a boy I loved stories of traveling to planets, but Apollo turned out to be nothing like those stories, and with my adult understanding I realize how immensely more our limited resources can achieve by robot technology and new sophisticated instruments in space.

The notion of sending men to Mars any time in the foreseeable future only makes me think of the early-astronaut expression for flying in earth orbit, spam in a can.

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