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The 1979 James Bond film Moonraker, which I watched again tonight, reminds us of a space program that was then exciting and new, and which has now been left to wilt on the vine by a U.S. government that seems more bent on war than on exploration.

Moonraker, written by Ian Fleming in 1954, was due to be filmed in ’73, but was not shot and released until 1979. Its release preceded the Space Shuttle by 2 years, though the film featured not less than six of the shuttles, and the manned space station featured in the film was not actually started until the core section was assembled in space in 1998.

The film also featured the supersonic Concorde passenger plane, showing a BA plane landing in Rio. The Rio service, via Paris, began in 1976, and the Concorde, of which 25 were built, flew from 1969 to 2000. Thus, the Space Shuttle and the Concorde featured in this 32 year-old movie, are no more, and only the Space Station, which began 19 years after the film and is not due to be finished until next year, remains. It is expected to fly until 2020, and possibly 2028, and maybe there will be a U.S. spacecraft capable of shuttling to it again before then.

Just as the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, inspiration for Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises,” gets underway this week (, there is also a lot of “bull” coming out of NASA, as America’s last ever space Shuttle Mission is about to blast off.

The U.S. has no successor manned space program ready to go, or even in the works. What a bunch of bull that is! When the U.S. transitioned out of the Apollo space program in 1975, we were already working on the Shuttle program which launched in 1981. But this time, there is no plan to get back into space. If we want to sputter along in space, we buy a ticket on a Russian vehicle, as long as they choose to let us.

There is a lot of talk out of NASA about encouraging private enterprise to launch deep space initiatives, but guess what? Private enterprise has already been building most of the components of our previous space technology, so there’s nothing new there. What has now let us down is the U.S. government’s non-commitment to space, and all the innovation and discovery space exploration has to offer. Just as climate change is reminding us that our own home space platform, the Earth, has its limitations, we are closing the door on humankind’s options in space.

We can fight two pointless wars and launch billions of dollars worth of war drones (robot-controlled bombs), but we can’t seem to move forward on a peaceful program that can inspire and help insure America and the world’s future. How disgusted I am in everyone in government connected with non-funding of space exploration is something I can barely find the words to articulate. Just let it be known that any, and I mean any, of those involved who are up for re-election deserve to be scourged from what is left of our competent political leadership, along with those who fund our wars.

Yes, there is something as stupid as those who lunge ahead of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, and that is the gaggle of political cretins who pull science out of space and send it out to kill people with drones. Guess that is our new “space” program. What bull!

Yes, today is the 4th of July, but the event we are commemorating is Independence Day, which means a lot in reference to our freedom and democracy in the U.S. Doesn’t it bug you when others say, “Have a happy 4th.” Guess it’s too much trouble to remind people we’re celebrating our freedom.

2. Lots of media coverage out there of the impending end of the Shuttle Space program, as if that’s something we should celebrate, when the opposite is true. We learn a lot of practical things through the space program every day, including taking baby steps towards the possible future salvation of mankind, when we’ve worn this world out. Now, if we want to venture out there, we have to make a reservation with the Russians for a ride to the Space Station, which we’ve spent billions developing. We hear our scientists are now focused on “deep space,” which is good, but doesn’t that ring a little hollow when we remember what this nation accomplished when John Kennedy challenged us, almost 50 years ago, to put a man on the moon?

3. The news is reporting that the last draftee from the Vietnam War is retiring from the military after 32 years of service. This generation is relieved that the draft is gone, and that war is now left to professional volunteers. It still doesn’t occur to many that we might have moved these decade-long wars of the 21st century along a little faster if we all recognized we have a stake in what neurotic politicians and military/industrial bureaucrats drag us into. Of course, we’re about to go bankrupt as a nation because of Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe that will get our attention.

4. All that said, it’s a nice day to enjoy family, the outdoors, good food, good friends and our freedom. Happy Independence Day, and may there be many more!

December 2022

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