Friday, July 8, 2011

I Blame Tom Wolfe

I'm not old enough to remember the Moon landings, but I remember Skylab well. I was fascinated by the capsules splashing down out in the ocean and all the ships and helicopters making a fuss to go get the astronauts bobbing around at sea. I always thought it an odd way to do things, so I was excited to hear about a new way to get everyone there and back that they were going to call the "Space Shuttle". The concept drawing looked suitably futuristic, featuring a sleek delta winged aircraft with brightly painted tail and space age numbers on the wings. They even got so far as to start building a test model called "Enterprise" (way cool for us geeks) before Congress got cold feet and canceled funding.

If they hadn't, I think things would be very different today. A fleet of fully reusable spacecraft lunching every two weeks would have given us a permanent Moon base and perhaps even a manned mission to Mars. It would have been such a safe method of transport that private funding would have built the first orbiting hotel to serve the growing space tourism industry, perhaps in conjunction with the massive space station doing scientific research, zero gravity manufacturing and building other... stuff... in space.

Wait a minute. Congress didn't cancel it. We've been stuck with that white brick deathtrap for thirty years now.


  1. Hell, I remember the ruckus when Sputnik went up. The moon landings I watched during the summer after I graduated from high school. The main book of Wolfe's that I remember was The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test; I had a friend who was on the bus.