Tuesday, July 15, 2008

To Boldly Go...

I used to know this guy who was a Star Trek geek. He had this really annoying habit. Every time I'd tell him a simple story about how my day went, he'd reply with "that reminds me of an episode of Star Trek where..." Except I wasn't a Trekkie. In fact, I can't even give you any examples of his replies because I would tune him out the instant he started talking Trek.

Needless to say, that relationship didn't last long, but wherever he is now, I bet he'd be excited about the International Space Station (ISS). Or at least he'd be excited about this proposal in the Washington Post.

The ISS is as big as a football field, cost $156 billion, has laboratories and living modules, and when completed, will house a crew of six. But rather than holding this expensive ship in a low-Earth orbit, maybe we should send it somewhere? A real starship Enterprise.

From the WP:
The ISS, you see, is already an interplanetary spacecraft -- at least potentially. It's missing a drive system and a steerage module, but those are technicalities. Although it's ungainly in appearance, it's designed to be boosted periodically to a higher altitude by a shuttle, a Russian Soyuz or one of the upcoming new Constellation program Orion spacecraft. It could fairly easily be retrofitted for operations beyond low-Earth orbit. In principle, we could fly it almost anywhere within the inner solar system -- to any place where it could still receive enough solar power to keep all its systems running.
Well, don't beam me up, Scotty. Although I'd love for such a mission to happen in my lifetime, I personally prefer to keep my feet on the ground.

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