NASA’s Discovery shuttle launch was delayed last week when a potentially hazardous 20-inch crack in the foam around the fuel tank was discovered. Officials say the discovery was made due to a misaligned seal, which is now being examined. The launch date, which was originally set for Nov. 5, has been pushed even further back to Nov. 30. The shuttle is one of the last in the NASA flight program and is intended to re-supply the International Space Station.
Questions about the space program’s use and legitimacy first started after the space shuttle Columbia crashed in 2003. The shuttle was damaged during lift off when a piece of insulator foam fell away from the flight and damaged the wing, which resulted in the shuttle’s explosion as it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere. The crash resulted in the space program being closed down after the completion of the International Space Station.
While many agree that our current level of space exploration is not actually contributing anything to mankind or science, some still regret its passing. After all, if we do not try to discover, then we do not discover. However, launching shuttle after fruitless shuttle into space does nothing but pollute the atmosphere and take up billions of American dollars while actually achieving nothing.
Space exploration has, in truth, become nothing more than an economic drain and a waste of time. Until we increase our level of technology to be able to do something useful with space, we might as well spend the money on something more worthwhile, such as perhaps buying the second-lowest bidder to build our high-tech machinery.
I do believe, however, that the space program will and should eventually be put back into effect. For now, the USA will be paying Russia $51 million per person to fly astronauts up to the International Space Station. While this is cheaper than building a shuttle and flying it into space, there is still the small doubt in my mind that it is a worthwhile use of funds.
Space discovery is not at an end, merely on hold. The delay of the launch is nothing but a minor insignificance that will not be remembered in 20 years. The space program is closing for now, but it will be back, bigger, better and more money- and time-consuming than ever.