The editorial “Space as a Campaign Issue” [
26, page 18] asserts that delaying Constellation for five years “… would of course be disastrous” because of a “..minimum 10-year U.S. hiatus … in human spaceflight.”
We had a six-year hiatus in U.S. human spaceflight from 1975 (Apollo-Soyuz) to 1981 (
shuttle). What were the disastrous results? I don’t remember any. I can’t find any. Frankly, there weren’t any, and there won’t be if Constellation is delayed. Some aerospace contractors will make less money, true. People who follow the manned space program will get fewer vicarious thrills. We’ll have less access to the international space station
. Not good?
Besides, it’s quite likely that a lot of Americans will be going into space regardless of Constellation’s fate.
U.S. companies are building spacecraft to take thousands of people into space, and there’s a decent chance they’ll be functioning before shuttle retirement in 2010. These are sub
orbital trips, true, but I think the future of human spaceflight is with tens of thousands of people going on their own dime, not with a handful of people at fantastic levels of government expenditure.