Open Thread: Getting to Mars, Privatization of Space

Mae Jemison

Today is scheduled to be the final launch of NASA’s Space Shuttle program, though it may be delayed due to weather.

All week, American astronauts have been speaking out about the end of an era with the shuttle program.

USA Today notes:

NASA is closing out its 30-year space shuttle program to take aim at asteroids and Mars, destinations favored by the White House. Private companies will take over the job of hauling cargo and crews to the International Space Station, freeing NASA up to focus on points beyond.

“We believe that on behalf of the American people, it is time for NASA to do the hard things to go beyond low-Earth orbit,” NASA’s deputy administrator, Lori Garver, told reporters gathering for the launch.

Here’s Mae Jemison talking about going into space:

  • Matt Seegz


  • Heavy Armor

    The shuttle program is being “shuttered” with no direct replacement in the pipeline for several reasons, but the most important one, IMO, is that there is no enthusiasm for Americans about space travel and all of the implications and benefits that come from it.  While many countries on different continents are looking to ramp up their presence in space, the US – which was at one point considered to have one of the premier space programs in the world – is scaling back all but its military presence  in outer space.

    I reflected on this issue back when the announcement was first made about the shuttle program coming to an end – and how American-produced science fiction and space fantasy media reflected (and contributed to) the waning enthusiasm of the United States for space travel.  Find it here: