Monday, March 28, 2005

Just got out of a talk given by astronaut Tony England. (In fact, I'm still in the science building, using the table whence I usually lecture, for its accessible sneakret wi-fi.) TheLimey was frothing at the mouth to join me but had to fly to Florida at the last minute for work purposes (I took extensive notes).

I would say the gist of the talk was that we should forgo the moon base and just get to the Mars exploration bit. He discussed the approach used by the Apollo missions, which included each step building on knowledge gained in the previous step. (This is unlike the shuttle missions, which don't change.) And that we should catch up and by gosh start using robotic transport like the Russians, because now we're way the heck behind. (If it weren't for Soyuz, there wouldn't be any way to get to the ISS.)

Being big on earth system science, he also strongly recommended that people read Diamond's Collapse and figure out where we as a planetary society fit into that mold. And he also said that he finally gave in and watched Apollo 13 when one of his kids rented it, and that it was "eerily" accurate.

(I forgot about that book, which I wanted to read when it came out, and now I also want to see the flick, which I never saw.)

He furthermore explained that the cool part of space flight is not the floaty part, but the staggering view of Earth, and that if he did it again he'd spend less time with the science bits (i.e. his job!) and more time looking out the window instead. Also, the medics thought there was something wrong with him when they got on board to examine them after the flight, but in actuality he was sad because it was over.


Tim said...

Collapse sounds really interesting. I think I'll have to add it to my own Wishlist. If you're looking for a fact-packed book to read on the space program, you might want to pick up A Man On The Moon (if you've not already read it).

liz said...

Wow, that one does have a cartload of rave reviews, doesn't it?

My wishlist has spilled past three pages at this point...