Archive for Friday, April 20, 2012

Ex-astronaut Hawley laments end of shuttles

April 20, 2012


It’s the end of an era — but there’s always some small hope that one day another inspiring mission will take its place.

In an interview with the Journal-World and in a keynote address Friday evening at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H., former astronaut and Kansas University professor Steve Hawley talked about the decommission and retirement of the space shuttle Discovery, which he traveled to space in multiple times, including on the mission 22 years ago that launched the Hubble deep-space telescope.

Hawley, who teaches in the department of physics and astronomy, said the end of the shuttle was a sad time personally and for American space exploration.

“I’m glad it’ll be in a museum; it’s a unique piece of history,” he said, “but unfortunately it tells the story of what we used to do, not what we do now.”

Americans will now need the help of spacecraft from other nations to get to space, and Hawley said he was disappointed more didn’t support NASA and its programs.

“It boils down to national will,” he said. “It was great to see people interested in the shuttle (this week) and watching it fly over Washington — that’s fabulous. But I wish they were there and interested when we had the program running.”

Hawley spoke at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Leadership Kansas program, a business ideas forum in which 40 selected leaders from across the state travel and participate in various activities over a six-month period, “educating them to better serve the state,” said John Federico, executive director.

Gov. Sam Brownback also spoke briefly at the event, introducing the 40 class members and joking with the audience of Leadership Kansas alumni.

“Life is relational,” he said, emphasizing the networking opportunities of the 34-year-old program.

Hawley’s speech recalled anecdotes of his time with NASA but also highlighted his Kansas roots, growing up in Salina.

He praised the engineering accomplishments of the shuttle program and said it had “inspired a whole generation of men and women into careers in engineering and science.”

Ultimately, he was cautiously optimistic about the future of American endeavors in space.

“I’m hoping that we’ll make the people and money investment to do something exciting again,” he said. “But I don’t know when that might be.”


Joe Hyde 6 years ago

We marginalized the funding of "Explore! Explore!" in favor of funding "War! War!" and in many respects have become a poorer, less inspired nation for having made that choice.

ivalueamerica 6 years ago

Our expense this year alone on military exceeds the entire cumulative budget of NASA for it's entire history.

Cait McKnelly 6 years ago

Wow!!!! Did your nose grow a foot with that whopper?

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

The dog-eating tyrant can't see a way to make manned space flight all about him. Thus, he doesn't care about it.

tomatogrower 5 years, 12 months ago

Are you really that nuts? You don't want to pay taxes, but you want a space program? Something for nothing. That's what the conservatives are all about. Don't force me to buy health insurance. You'd rather make the rest of us pay up when you get sick. Don't want to pay taxes, but you'll whine about bad roads, police and fire. You have a "Support the Troops" bumper sticker, but want a tax break. You are the deadbeats, and support other hypocrites like Ron Paul, who make their living off donations from rich people and the government jobs people are stupid enough to elect them for, instead of getting real jobs. Your too lazy to recycle, so you make practical ways of living out to be liberal conspiracies to control your life, but you support all kinds of legislation to control people's lives. Do you have any idea how hypocritical you are?

yourworstnightmare 6 years ago

The end of the program is sad, but low earth orbit can now be handled by the private sector.

Mars should be the new goal.

Mike Edson 5 years, 12 months ago

Alex Garrison, "Ex" and "Former" mean two different things. "Ex" is used to refer to a dishonorable discharge, and "Former" is to have left the service honorably. It would show the proper respect by changing your headline to read "Former-astronaut."

nut_case 5 years, 12 months ago

I lament the end of the shuttle only because there is nothing to replace it. The US has now joined the ranks of other second/third world countries who have no viable way to put people in space.

The shuttle was an over priced, overly complex, dangerous system which never worked as well or as cheaply as intended. It truly needed to be replaced, but to not have a replacement ready when the shuttles come out of service is deplorable.

riverdrifter 5 years, 12 months ago

What you said nut_case. We shot people up like fireworks in the shuttle program. That we as a country didn't have anything lined up to replace the shuttle program 20+ years ago is a shame.

nut_case 5 years, 12 months ago

...and another thing...

While I enjoy science and support it's many explorations, the replacement for the shuttle is supposed to be some capsule to take men to...deep space. ?? There is even less to do in deep space than there is in low earth orbit!

Personally, I say:

1) Build us a rocket/capsule combination to get people to orbit. Simple, safe, reliable, adaptable without a lot of bells and whistles...the Russians have been doing it for 30 years, so and we did it pretty well in the 60's and 70's so modernization of that technology shouldn't be hard.

2) Build more rovers/orbiters and robotic missions. In 1964 we had no men on Mars, Mariner 4 gave us 16 grainy black and white photos from a flyby. In 2014 we will have no men on Mars and the MSL rover is set to send back hundreds of thousands of full color / high def images and terabytes of data. It's not hard to see who is winning this race. In another couple decades, we will probably be able to telepresense a lifelike virtual reality of Mars...we stay here, but examine Mars - or Europa, or Titan, or where ever - through robots, just like being there.

3) Advanced propulsion. If humans do go out among the stars, it needs to be quick, cheap and safe. No current propulsion really does that today. We need 'the next big thing'.

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