Villagers With Pitchforks

The flaming torches were delayed in transit, sorry.

Friday, July 16, 2004

On this day in history, we punted

Thirty-five years ago today, Apollo 11 lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Within six hours, it was on its way to the first manned landing on the moon.

People have decried "throwing all of that money away on space", and it just doesn't wash with me. Every cent we spent going to the moon stayed on Earth. Most of it stayed in the USA.

The real waste is this: If we were to need to build a Saturn V rocket right now (incoming asteroid!), we can't just pull the plans out and build it. Many of the plans don't exist any more. There are still Saturn V rockets in existence, but they are all museum pieces. None of them are flight-worthy, or even complete. Only one is being restored, and that restoration is to museum quality, which is not the same as flight-ready. So not only would we have to rebuild the tooling and the launch pads - which is reasonable - we'd have to re-invent much of the rocket from basic principles and the knowledge that we've done it before.

I don't mind doing things for political reasons. Politics is human nature. But I bitterly resent hard-won knowledge being thrown away like that.



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