In the aftermath of the end of Shuttle, and in the middle of a muddle in Congress over what to do next, many are skeptical that the US has a real space program.
Well, we do. NASA are still conducting the world’s finest space science missions and the commercial operators are building new launch systems that will operate far more cheaply than the Shuttle did. Last night, 60 Minutes did their worst story in years, about the laid-off workers at the Cape – without any mention that this reduction in staffing is inevitable, if we are to shift to more economical flight ops.
Meanwhile, chest-thumping patriots are voicing concerns that the Russians will now ‘own’ space. That may not be a problem. Here is the latest news from the Russian agency, dogged by a string of recent disasters. The core of the story is here:
Popovkin did indeed hit his head, but it wasn’t on a marble railing. Reportedly, a man smashed a bottle over the head of the Russian space chief after the two men got into a fight over a woman at a party. The woman in question? Popovkin’s personal press secretary, Anna Vedischeva, a 27-year-old former model he hired last year despite her complete lack of knowledge of the Russian space program and zero experience in public relations.
And, to add a touch of irony to the whole situation, the incident supposedly took place during a party on March 8 to mark…wait for it….International Women’s Day.
Here is something from Google’s picture gallery on this press secretary, to illustrate the matter:
Meanwhile, the Chinese are running their own thing and have reached the point of development that NASA achieved . . . . back in the early 1970′s.
If Congress does not screw this up (which is an open question just now), we will do fine.