Do We Have What It Takes to Explore Space?
The recent accidents at Virgin Galactic and Orbital Sciences have stimulated an important discussion not only for space exploration, but also for our national economic future: What level of risk are we willing to accept in order to advance technology and exploration?
We are all saddened by the recent death and injury of the Virgin Galactic test pilots. Comprehensive investigations of both accidents are required; but these episodes have fueled cases of wild speculation, misinformation, and at times borderline hysteria from various members of the media. Many of these stories question whether ‘commercial’ companies should be engaged in space exploration — and some have questioned whether we should risk lives for space exploration at all.
Ironically, during the same time-frame as these two accidents, circus performer Nik Wallenda tightrope walked blindfolded between two Chicago skyscrapers, and actor Tom Cruise dangled outside an inflight airplane to promote his upcoming movie. These stunts did not receive nearly the scrutiny and condemnation from the pundits that the spacecraft accidents received. Granted, neither of these stunts resulted in a loss of life, but both were cases of individuals taking a substantial risk to their lives for nothing more than publicity and entertainment. By comparison, —> Read More Here