I have read The Economist for quite some time and enjoy their independent analysis of politics, business, and government. The publication struck a nerve with me in an article included in their July 2nd to 8th, 2011 issue.
The article entitled, “The end of the Space Age” professed that the International Space Station was the biggest waste of money that has ever been built in the name of science.
My response, in a letter to the editor of The Economist was:
Sir – Your publication’s article, by the same title, displayed judgmental pessimism and a significant lack of understanding of the benefits of the U.S. Space Shuttle Program and the International Space Station (ISS).
The ISS has been built as a joint project between five international space agencies and has been visited by astronauts and cosmonauts from fifteen different nations. This amazing research facility could not have been built without the Space Shuttle.
All inhabitants of earth have benefited from research conducted on the ISS. These research fields are wide ranging from the mapping of the polar ice caps, extensive research in combustion science, to the creation of new material substances. We will continue to receive dividends from this on-going research for many years to come.
In addition to countless scientific benefits including support of the Hubble Telescope there are also the intangibles of education and cultural outreach. To create interest and encourage the young of this world to choose careers in mathematics and the sciences will have far reaching affects. Make no mistake, this program has created and captured the interest of many, including this middle aged accountant.
I contend that outer space exploration is history only in the minds of the short-sighted. We have explored, since the history of man, and the exploration of outer space will continue.
It will be interesting to see if they print my article! I hope you are enjoying this summer. My family just returned from a trip to the Baltics……more for a later post.