Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Why Progressives Should Care About Human Destiny in Space

* By Tad Daley, AlterNet. Posted August 11, 2007

*Barbara Morgan's journey into the cosmos sheds light on the importance
of the space program.

Ross W. Sargent sent me a note alerting me to the article below.
He thought it was good stuff and I think you will enjoy checking it out
as well.
- LRK -

*A few clips from the 3 page Internet article.
- LRK -

Everybody knows that whether it's lavish Broadway spectacle or humble
community theater, the lead actors have understudies. If Hamlet, Sky
Masterson or Galinda the Good Witch come down with laryngitis a couple
of hours before curtain, some brave soul needs to be ready, at a
moment's notice, to step into the breach.

But perhaps not everybody knows that astronauts, too, have
"understudies." If Mission Specialist No. 4 comes down with laryngitis a
couple of days before launch, NASA doesn't want to scrub a flight after
years of training by the crew and all the preparation that goes into
every mission by thousands more on the ground.

The crew of the Challenger, which perished on Jan. 28, 1986, when the
space shuttle disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean 73 seconds after
liftoff, had backups. Christa McAuliffe, who was selected to be the
first "schoolteacher in space," was herself backed up by another
schoolteacher. Her name was Barbara Radding Morgan, who taught
elementary school in Fresno, Calif., and was then 34 years old.

On Wednesday evening, more than 21 years later, Ms. Morgan, now 55, went
up on the space shuttle Endeavor as NASA's first "educator in space" to
continue the mission that Ms. McAuliffe began two long decades ago. And
she's doing it from the same place where McAuliffe sat -- in the middle
of the lower deck.

But why go to all the trouble to launch a now 55-year-old woman into the
cosmos? What is the meaning of Barbara Morgan? As we approach our 50th
anniversary as a spacefaring civilization (Sputnik was launched into
orbit by the late USSR on Oct. 4, 1957), what is the space program for?

And why should progressives, with a full menu of more immediate causes
on our activist plates, care about this one?

I heard one answer last month, in Kansas City, at the commemoration of
the centennial, on 7/7/7, of the birth of perhaps the greatest apostle
of human destiny in space that humanity has yet produced -- Robert A.
Heinlein <>. His majestic /Time Enough
for Love/ told the life story of Lazarus Long, one of the most
charismatic characters in 20th century literature. Setting the scene in
the year 4272, Heinlein wrote, "We are no longer able to make a reasoned
guess at the numbers of the Human Race, nor do we have even an
approximate count of the colonized planets. The most we can say is that
there must be in excess of two thousand colonized planets, in excess of
five hundred billion people. The colonized planets may be twice that
number, the Human Race could be four times that numerous. ... Pioneers
care little about sending records to the home office; they are busy
staying alive ..."


A second core progressive value beckons to us from space as well.
Progressives believe that our national citizenship must be accompanied
by a global citizenship, that our allegiance to our nation stands
alongside an allegiance to humanity, that our national patriotism must
in the end be transcended by a planetary patriotism. We stand in the
tradition of what the great psychologist Erik Erikson called an
"all-human solidarity." We see the first glimmerings of what the
political scientist Robert C. Tucker calls an "ethic of specieshood." We
are the vanguard of what Voltaire called "the party of humanity."

And space has already shown that it can serve as perhaps the single
greatest engine of human unity.

On July 20, 1979, on the tenth anniversary of humanity's first footsteps
on the moon, Neil Armstrong was asked how he had felt as he saluted the
flag up there. "I suppose you're thinking about pride and patriotism,"
he replied. "But we didn't have a strong nationalistic feeling at that
time. We felt more that it was a venture of all mankind." (One wonders
if any consideration was given, in the high councils of the Johnson and
Nixon administrations, to having Armstrong and Aldrin plant not a flag
of the United States on the moon, but a flag of Planet Earth.)

Many of the fortunate souls who have made it into Earth orbit (and the
infinitesimal 27 who have left Earth orbit and ventured to the moon)
have expressed remarkably similar sentiments.

"The first day or so we all pointed to our countries," said the Saudi
astronaut Sultan bin Salman Al-Saud. "The third or fourth day we were
pointing to our continents. By the fifth day, we were aware of only one
Earth." "The Earth was small, light blue, and so touchingly alone," said
the Russian astronaut Aleksei Leonov, "our home that must be defended
like a holy relic." "From out there on the moon, international politics
look so petty," said Edgar Mitchell, one of only 12 humans to have
walked on the surface of another world. "You want to grab a politician
by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter million miles out and
say, 'Look at that, you son of a bitch.'"

This is why the late Carl Sagan claimed that spaceflight was actually
subversive. Although governments have ventured into space, Sagan
observed, largely for nationalistic reasons, "it was a small irony that
almost everyone who entered space received a startling glimpse of a
transnational perspective, of the Earth as one world."


Perhaps the single best line of the Heinlein Centennial was uttered to
us on an enormous video screen, from Sri Lanka, by 90-year-old Arthur C.
Clarke, when he said, "Robert Heinlein will be revered by future
generations. If any."

Stephen Hawking, similarly, in remarks just before boarding his widely
publicized zero-gravity airplane flight in April, said, "Life on Earth
is at risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global
warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus. ... I think the
human race has no future if it doesn't go into space."

And the Royal Astronomer Martin Rees, of Cambridge University, in his
chilling 2003 book /Our Final Hour/, surveyed the litany of
macro-dangers facing humanity (some natural but most of our own making)
-- asteroid impact, climate change, nuclear apocalypse, bioterror,
nanotechnology spinning out of control, the enormous destructive
potentials that can be unleashed today by just a few malevolent
individuals. Then he delivered this astonishing verdict: "I think the
odds are no better than 50-50 that our present civilization on Earth
will survive to the end of the present century."


OK, maybe too many clips. Just wanted you to get a flavor for what was
written in hopes you might read the whole article.
- LRK -

/Tad Daley is a veteran progressive political adviser and nuclear
disarmament policy analyst. He has served as a policy aide for the late
U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston, as national issues director for Rep. Dennis
Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign and as a co-founder of Progressive
Democrats of America,

One never knows where one may find support for going to the Moon, Mars,
and Beyond.
- LRK -

*Thanks for looking up with me.
- LRK -

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
RSS link:
A note from Ross W Sargent. Thanks much. - LRK -

Hi Larry

I found this human space advocacy article in an unlikely place - and
good stuff it is too!

all the best

Absurdity, n.: A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's
own opinion. Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
*Welcome to Heavens-Above
If you're interested in satellites or astronomy, you've come to the
right place! Our aim is to provide you with all the information you need
to observe satellites such as the *International Space Station* and the
*Space Shuttle*, spectacular events such as the dazzlingly bright
*flares from Iridium satellites* as well as a wealth of other
spaceflight and astronomical information.

We not only provide the times of visibility, but also detailed star
charts showing the satellite's track through the heavens. All our pages,
including the graphics, are *generated in real-time* and *customized*
for your location and time zone.

Before we can generate the predictions for you, we need to know where
you are, and there are several ways you can do this, depending on
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the site anonymously. For a discussion of the merits of registering,
please here <>. For
some tips on how to get the best out of the site as an anonymous user,
here <>.

As posted on NASA News and also found at
Aug. 13, 2007

Sonja Alexander
Headquarters, Washington

Emily Sturgill
Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.

Rita Karl
Challenger Center for Space Science Education, Alexandria, Va.



ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- How do you brush your teeth in space? What is your
favorite space food? How would you compare flying in space to flying
on an airplane? Select elementary and middle school students from
across the country will have the chance to ask these questions during
a live conversation with the day's most famous teacher, educator
astronaut Barbara R. Morgan.

NASA's Teaching From Space Office, at the Johnson Space Center,
Houston, and the Challenger Center for Space Science Education in
Alexandria, Va., will host a 20-minute live conversation with STS-118
mission specialists Barbara R. Morgan and Rick Mastracchio. From
their perch aboard the International Space Station, Morgan and
Mastracchio will answer 20 questions from student winners of a
national poster contest held by the Challenger Center.

The downlinked conversation with the students at the center will take
place on Thursday, Aug. 16, at 8:51 a.m. EDT. The center is located
at 1250 North Pitt Street, Alexandria, Va. It will be carried live on
NASA TV and will be available on the Internet at:

Morgan was selected to become the first educator mission specialist in
1998. Her primary duty is the same as it is for the entire crew --
accomplish the planned objectives of station assembly. She also will
take part in several education-related activities, including the
upcoming downlink.

The Challenger Center for Space Science Education was founded in 1986
by the families of the astronauts of the space shuttle Challenger
51-L mission. It is dedicated to the educational spirit of that
mission. Challenger Learning Center programs at 48 centers across the
country continue the crew's mission of engaging teachers and students
in science, mathematics and technology and foster in them an interest
to pursue careers in those fields. Over 25,000 teachers and 400,000
students attend workshops and fly simulated missions annually at
Challenger Learning Centers.

As part of NASA's commitment to investing in the nation's education
programs, NASA allows the shuttle and space station crew members to
perform standard-based activities in space to demonstrate basic
principles of science, math, engineering and geography. Many of these
activities involve video recording and/or still photographic
documentation of a crewmember performing demonstrations. Other
activities involve crewmembers on board the space station answering
questions from students on Earth. NASA is focused on engaging and
retaining students in education efforts that encourage their pursuit
of disciplines critical to NASA's future engineering, scientific and
technical missions.

For more information about the Challenger Center for Space Science
Education and all the Challenger Centers, visit:

For more information on NASA, visit:


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