I have just read an article about the new NASA plan to send men to the moon again by 2020. That assumes, of course, that some little oik in Congress doesn't start to divert the money this will absorb to some more "useful" project - ie: one they get more votes for. That apparently was why the moon projects didn't continue in the 1960's, somebody in Congress figured out the Russians weren't trying anymore and pulled the plug.
I must say that the new modules are a complete sea-change away from the Appollo capsules. THe new Orion capsule is larger and has far more backup and computing power than any of the Appollo missions had. In fact, listening to Buzz Aldrin on the Radio the other day I could only admire the spirit of men who flew the Appollo (Or perhaps travelled in it rather than flew it!) missions knowing they had almost nothing to back them up if anything failed. There was almost no redundancy in their computers - in fact the modern Braun shaver has more computing power in its built in chip - and if anything failed or went radically wrong there was almost no chance of a return to Earth. Yet they went - and, as Appollo 13 showed - they had the wit, the courage and the ability to fly the thing back to Earth crippled and only just supporting their lives.
I was a schoolboy when men first walked on the moon and a young man starting out on a career when the last mission flew. I hope that I will live long enough to see men and women based permanently on the moon and on the sort of Space Stations we dared to dream would one day float above our atmosphere before the politicians started diverting the funds to fund their own ego boosting agendas.
My only regret with this project is that my own government and my own country will not contribute one penny to sending any of our own brave and intrepid men and women into space - they'd rather fund drug takers and wastrels than spend one farthing on anything worthwhile.
Roanoke Pinball Museum in Roanoke, Virginia
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