Sunday, July 31, 2011

NASA Can Still Boldly Go!! Pt 1

I recall as a young lad my family gathered around the TV hearing the words of the Apollo astronauts proudly announce, "The Eagle has landed!" A few hours later Neil Armstrong placed his foot on the lunar soil and we heard his all inclusive words, "That's one small step for a man but one giant leap for mankind." It truly was an American achievement realizing the goal set by John F Kennedy on May 25th 1961 when he stated, "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."  Armstrong's first words placing his foot on the moon seem to want to include  humanity universally as responsible for the achievement,  defining it as "...a giant leap for mankind'  After Apollo we saw Project Skylab which lasted from 1973 to 1979 and the Shuttle Program from 1981 to 2011.

Not to take away from those achievements,  but all know so well the thought prevalent on most people's minds, that is among those interested in man in space, was the thought that we went to the moon and back to the earth and eventually just stayed there. When would the dream be realized of going to the planets beyond as one see's portrayed in Arthur C Clarke's 2001? In the 60's Clarke envisioned that by 2000 men might have gone beyond Mars and on the way to Jupiter--no such luck for those who considered that the next sign of progress. Mars has been visited various times by robotic ships and small golf court like buggies and  a rather large car like version, 'Curiousity' will be traversing the red planet in 2012.  We come back however to man--what about him?  What should be the actually vision concerning men in the flesh visiting the other planets?

How important of a priority should it be?  Apparently Neil Armstrong and Jim Lovell have expressed disappointment in regard to the cancelling of the Constellation Program of which U.S. President Obama has shelved. He holds to the position that NASA must get out of the Apollo way of thinking in regard to propulsion systems, citing that new technologies need to be advanced to make other planetary flights, beyond the moon viable. Could President Obama have a point? Even in Clarke's 2001 he had envisioned that by that year men might have developed a hibernation technique whereby astronauts on long journeys would be in a continual state of sleep. Traversing to the outer planets is indeed a long tedious affair and is there any real way to properly test willing participants as to whether they even have the capacity for such journeys?

It's all well and good to say that men have circled the globe in space stations around the earth, the record holder  Russian Valeri Polyakov at 438 days,but keep in mind such ones are always conscious of the  fact that they could land back on the earth in relatively short order. What exactly therefore would be a viable visions for NASA to have? No manned missions whatsoever? I wouldn't say so. I'd say there's a way to progress onwards with  a vision for this time and era in the following way--manned missions to an extent but a new focus on robotic vessels. Manned missions should find itself taking place  through a global mandate, of nations working together. One wonders if a Global Space Agency could be created with all nations contributing.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Will And Kate's Visit Quite Significant For Canada


Undoubtedly the Canada Day celebrations of July 1, 2011 will go down as significant and the one most talked about for the  generation. The city of Ottawa, the Canadian capital, experienced a  wonderful blue sky day---perfect weather! Music groups from a variety of different ethnic groups took the stage on Parliament Hill playing their own brand of music and exhibiting their own type of cultural expression. This was all very wonderful but such has been the norm for a great many years. Why would I define this particular celebration as one which stands  out for the generation? Clearly for the reason of the special guests who were in attendance the Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus and his dear wife, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, better known to all as Will and Kate.
Will and Kate---what a sensation!  Two months ago on April 29th the couple were married at Westminster Abbey where  it's estimated 2 billion world wide watched  the proceedings, the horse drawn carriage the wedding ceremony plus the ride back to Buckingham Palace for the traditional kiss given by the two on the balcony.  The world was enthralled and of a truth it can be said they fell in love with Will and Kate. It goes without saying that William already was held in high regard  due to the fact he is the son of the remarkable Princess Diana but then there's his new bride, Kate Middleton who seems to fit the description of what all would like to see of an almost fairy tale princess. Without a doubt these two will be considered perhaps the biggest news makers of 2011.
Back to the Canadian story, what an honour, privilege it was to have these most renown individuals, attend and celebrate our nations holiday celebrations!   Large numbers usually attend the annual festivities in the nation's capital but never has Ottawa seen numbers like this, breaking records with  300,000 in attendance!  Arrive Will and Kate making their way in a horse drawn carriage towards Parliament Hill with thousands of well wishers! That they'd make their arrival this way; reminiscent of their wedding, some sixty days prior what a treat they allowed Canadians to have! 
Later as the dignitaries gave speeches on stage and the musicians  performed Prince William approached the podium and spoke some very honouring words towards Canada, beginning first with a Canadian connection concerning Kate, that her grandfather had told her that he trained as a pilot in Canada during WW2, in Alberta, and who held this country dear to his heart.
This actually was a little known fact and for many years after the war was considered information almost classified.  There were  two places pilots trained in Canada, the province of Alberta being one of them. This was hushed up at the time I would assume so spies couldn't observe pilot fighter manoeuvres. To understand Kate Middleton's grandfather had involvement with this gives that little bit of added sense of endearment towards the Royal couple.
Further statements by William concerning the contributions of the Canadian military were particularly moving stating that the nation can be immensely proud over the role Canada played in Afghanistan, and being in defence for the cause of freedom in many parts of the world, adding that our troops are revered and very much respected. These were the things I believe Canada longed and truly needed to hear, an acknowledgement from the crown in this regard. William closed his statements relating that he and Kate were  looking forward to the next eight days on the Canadian tour and all I can say it was a great privilege to have them here. . Thank you Will and Kate! It was a Canada Day which will be long remembered!