Too often these days we witness social media postings that degrade the perception of the United States manned space program as some sort of contest between the Orion, the Dragon and the Starliner. There follows the predictable banter from assorted usernames as to which vehicle and program is better and who is in the lead… as if we were all watching a NASACAR event where pit stops and restrictor plates were being used. A true spaceflight watcher can actually lose I.Q. points from either engaging in one of these threads or simply by reading it.
I, myself, have fallen into this trap and felt I.Q. points being siphoned away. I had to sit down and binge-read several chapters of Dr. David Baker’s “A History of Manned Spaceflight” in order to regain what I had lost.
We see cheer-leading and trash-talking between the zealots of SpaceX and the followers of Boeing or the fans of Orion. There is just one problem… this isn’t fantasy football… this isn’t A RACE! What we are witnessing in human spaceflight today, just as it has always been, is the peaceful advancement of human civilization through spaceflight technology. Yet we still have the myopic dolts who will sit back and believe that their favored company or vehicle can “do it all.” I have some news for them- we don’t need just Dragon, we don’t need just Starliner, we don’t need just Orion and we don’t need whatever in the hell Blue Origin is actually creating… we need them ALL flying- and the sooner, the better.
When you remove yourself from viewing the whole picture and focus on whatever favored vehicle you happen to “like” as if it were a high school crush, you miss out on the history that is being made throughout spaceflight. I’m reminded of the EFT-1 launch. It was an historic, one-off flight of the next generation of human spaceflight hardware. Yet those who didn’t “like” Orion chose to ignore the mission and felt it more productive to sit at their keyboards and post “yawn” comments on social media. How childish is that?
We are, at this moment, just a few steps away from the actual dawn if a completely new era in human spaceflight. Put aside your “fanboy” nonsense and take a good look around. Do not relegate yourself to posting yawns on social media. Rather spend your time soaking in the new technology of spaceflight that is coming in from every direction. It has never been like this before as new and differing vehicles are actually in the final stages of preparation to advance our spaceflight technology. And if you just read that and scoffed, “Huh, Orion is just a bigger Apollo,” you need to go and read up on rope memory- because you don’t know what the flock you’re talkin’ about.
No one is a bigger cynic than I when it comes to aviation and aerospace and no one will be less likely to truly fall for the huckster’s hype than me. But, even I see the progress beyond the doughnut wall. Take off your social media horse blinders, stop taking the bait from the trolls and take a hard look around. There are good times ahead in human spaceflight and they are coming from a lot of different directions.
And if what I’ve written here just pissed you off… yawn.
It’s not a race.
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