« Oregon Epiphany | Main | Before we drained out one another’s force »

Thursday, January 05, 2017

It is man's destiny to dream the impossible, to dare the impossible, and to do the impossible.

Only Nixon could give us a space jalopy so China could go to the moon:

It was Christmas in January, for whereas Fletcher and Low had come in hoping for approval of the downsized version that they really did not want, [OMB director George] Shultz now was ready to recommend that they receive the full-size version that had not been in play for over a month...The decision to proceed with the Shuttle became firm during the meeting in Shultz's office, with Shultz confirming his assent to NASA's request for $200 million as startup funds for the Shuttle within Nixon's FY 1973 budget.
As recently as November, Flanigan had anticipated that any White House announcement would be low-key. At that time, with the $3 billion glider as the likely new initiative, Flanigan expected to see the main coverage limited to the aerospace trade press, thereby reassuring this industry of Nixon's support while avoiding the high visibility that would draw fire from critics. The Shuttle, however, had metamorphosed now into a $5.5 billion program. As early as the previous Friday, prior to the meeting in Shultz's office, a White House staffer had already laid out the high-profile announcement that now was scheduled for Wednesday, January 5.

Fletcher and Low flew out to California, editing two NASA statements along the way. Nixon greeted them at the Western White House, as did John Ehrlichman. Though the President had planned to spend only 15 minutes with his visitors, the meeting ran well beyond a half-hour as he showed strong interest in the Shuttle and the space program. Fletcher had brought a model of a [Thrust Augmented Orbiter System], and Ehrlichman would remember "Nixon's fascination with the model. And he held it and, in fact, I wasn't sure that Fletcher was going to be able to get it away from him when the thing was over."

Nixon stated that NASA should stress civilian applications but should not hesitate to note the military uses as well. He showed interest in the possibility of routine operations and quick reaction times, for he saw that these could allow the Shuttle to help in disasters such as earthquakes or floods. He also liked the idea of using the Shuttle to dispose of nuclear waste by launching it into space. Fletcher mentioned that it might become possible to collect solar power in orbit and beam it to earth in the form of electricity. Nixon replied that such developments tend to happen much more quickly than people expect, and that they should not hesitate to talk about them.

He liked the fact that ordinary people would be able to fly in the Shuttle, who would not be highly-trained astronauts. He asked if the Shuttle was a good investment, and agreed that it was indeed, for it promised a tenfold reduction in the cost of space flight. He added that even if it was not a good investment, the nation would have to do it anyway, because space flight was here to stay.

Nixon's announcement on January 5, 1972:

I have decided today that the United States should proceed at once with the development of an entirely new type of space transportation system designed to help transform the space frontier of the 1970s into familiar territory, easily accessible for human endeavor in the 1980s and '90s.

This system will center on a space vehicle that can shuttle repeatedly from earth to orbit and back. It will revolutionize transportation into near space, by routinizing it. It will take the astronomical costs out of astronautics. In short, it will go a long way toward delivering the rich benefits of practical space utilization and the valuable spinoffs from space efforts into the daily lives of Americans and all people.

The new year 1972 is a year of conclusion for America's current series of manned flights to the moon. Much is expected of the two remaining Apollo missions--in fact, their scientific results should exceed the return from all the earlier flights together. Thus they will place a fitting capstone on this vastly successful undertaking. But they also bring us to an important decision point--a point of assessing what our space horizons are as Apollo ends, and of determining where we go from here.

Nice idea, but it kinda took our eyes off the horizon:

"This may be the last time in this century that men will walk on the Moon," President Nixon declared after [Harrison "Jack"] Schmitt and Eugene Cernan rocketed off the lunar surface on Dec. 14, 1972.

Schmitt has never forgiven Nixon for that remark and says he never will.

"Whether it was true or not, it was an inappropriate statement for the president to make," he said.

What's worse, it's [proven] to be true. 

Only Donald Trump could gut NASA's terran research so we could explore deep space...


January 5, 2017 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink


Post a comment