Why a new blog on space exploration? I realize that you may think that you need another blog like you need another hole in your head. That said, my intention is to create a forum where we can discuss -- constructively -- developments and trends that will lead to a more rapid and more effective human expansion into our solar system and perhaps one day beyond. This is a pivotal time in human history and an extremely exciting time in manned space exploration. I believe we are on the brink of a series of developments -- technological, economic, and political -- that will lay the foundation for the space faring civilization that so many of us hope for and expect. It is coming, and I hope we will all live to see it and -- with a little luck -- be able to participate in it.
But before we can get to that "promised land" there are big obstacles to overcome -- some of which are man made. The political consensus in favor of space exploration -- if it exists at all -- is very fragile and the support for human exploration is even more tenuous. Far too much of the energy and discussion on these topics among space supporters has, in my view, been expressed in terms that focus on demands that NASA (and the US) pursue a particular optimum/ideal strategy or technology and, where that does not occur, condemns in the strongest possible terms anything and anybody that deviates from that ideal. This confusion and dissent is, of course, manna from heaven for opponents of the space program. I can't think of a more sure-fire way to completely derail space exploration in general, and human space fight in particular, than for space advocates to continue to pursue this divisive and self-destructive behavior.
On this blog at least, I hope we can avoid dead end arguments over the adequacy of the Ares I booster and the relative merits of the Direct 2.0 alternative. These are arguments that resolve nothing until better information becomes available. Clearly there are passionate advocates for alternatives to the course that NASA has selected, but only time will tell whether the current Ares design will be able to accomplish the mission it has been designed for or whether it will need to be abandoned in favor of an alternative approach. In the mean time, happily, there are many exciting developments to consider that have nothing to do with that controversy and which could have an even more profound impact on the course and progress of our preparations to return to the Moon and move beyond the narrow confines of low earth orbit.
I am no scientist or engineer, and some may think that is an automatic disqualification when it comes to discussing these matters. However, it isn't on this blog. I don't think you need technical credentials to have an interest in these topics or to make an intelligent and/or insightful contribution to a discussion of these issues and that is the presumption we will be operating under from here on out.
But again, welcome.