Possible Fitting End to Science Fiction Folly

International Space Station insignia.

Image via Wikipedia

As one who has questioned for years why we are so interested in space exploration, I was somewhat amused to hear on public radio this morning that the inhabitants of the International Space Station might have to get out of Dodge in an escape capsule if a massive piece of space junk continues on its collision course.  It seems that an abandoned Chinese satellite that was blown up in 2009 is floating around in outer space, along with countless other skeletons of the celestial bone yard.  If the Chinese relic does hit the International Space Station directly, there will be no discussion of repairs–a la the Hubble Space Telescope.  In layman’s terms, the International Space Station will be totaled, and we don’t carry a collision insurance policy to cover a massive outer space fender bender.  These days, NASA is funded to the tune of about $19 billion annually from the federal budget.  Yes, that is the same budget that was overspent by over $1.6 trillion just last year.  This year, it is anticipated to be overspent by another $1.6 trillion.  While $19 billion per year might seem like just pocket change these days, it could help solve real, worldly problems, right here on Earth.


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