Editor's Note: The following is an edited excerpt from a transcript of Fareed Zakaria answering viewer questions online.
We need to re-think the purpose of space missions.
For years the U.S. shuttle program has basically sent people up into the inner atmosphere, spun them around for a while, and then brought them back. We’ve been doing this now for 15 or 20 years. It’s not entirely clear what the point is. We’re not learning much more and it’s incredibly expensive at $1.5 billion per shuttle flight.
What we need to say to ourselves is: “The purpose of the space program is to learn more about the universe and to learn more about space and that is going to be the goal, not necessarily to have manned flight, not to necessarily to say we touched down on Mars.”
The goal has to be to figure out what is going on in the universe: Is there life out there? What can we learn about different galaxies? FULL POST
Editor's Note: Elliot Pulham is chief executive officer of the Space Foundation. The following is reprinted from the Space Foundation with the permission of the author.
By Elliot Holokauahi Pulham
Today is scheduled to be the final Space Shuttle launch. It is the end of an era. It is not the end of the world.
I'll be the first to say that I am not happy that the United States is going into a "blackout" period whereby we will not be able to launch our own astronauts into space. But, I also think it's important to keep what's happening in perspective.
While it is true that the ultimate explorer is the human being, most of what goes on in space today does not involve - nor require - human passengers. In fact, in the entire space age thus far, fewer than 600 people have escaped our atmosphere, while hundreds of thousands of people earn a living through space endeavors every year. FULL POST