From the Director's Desk
8 July 2011
Today’s final launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis marks a poignant yet promising transition for America’s space program. One hopes it is a new start. Like many of us, the space program has gently matured over the decades and must now adapt to a changing role. While not exactly routine, shuttle missions have become sufficiently commonplace to remain all but obscured from the public consciousness. Much like another jumbo jet takeoff from DIA. I’m still amazed at the technological wonder of it all, but I just don’t find the missions particularly inspiring.
What I do find inspiring is discovery… finding something new and unexpected and startling. This is why I’m so captivated by the rover missions to Mars, the Galileo landing on Saturn’s moon Titan, and the recent arrival of the MESSENGER spacecraft to Mercury. In each of these cases, I’ve stood in awe of what we’ve found: evidence of recently flowing water on Mars, a shiny metallic meteorite sitting on the red dust of the Martian plains, lakes and rivers of liquid methane on Titan, and bizarre geological formations present in the extreme heat of Mercury’s surface.It’s perhaps time for NASA to re-focus on missions of discovery. The private sector is proving itself increasingly capable of delivering reliable launch services to sustain our nation’s satellite constellations and could soon adopt the human transportation mission with sufficient safety and dependability. This inevitable shift would enable a re-energized space agency to once again excite our imaginations and inspire new dreams.
Here at the Center for Space Studies we are expanding our research portfolio and building upon our popular space education offerings to bring about real positive results. Check out the latest progress on our new Space Environment Simulation Lab!