Sunday, October 07, 2007

50 Years in Space

This week I have been reading all about space travel. 50 years ago the Russians launched a rocket into space carrying Sputnik, the first artificial satellite placed orbit. Most of the articles I've read this week talk about how space innovation was sparked by Sputnik,was continued for a long time, but has since dwindled. They also talk about the emergence of space a s a private sector pursuit. The common denominator among this discussion is that space is an untapped resource. While technology has put our entire music collections in our pockets and made the world's learning accessible to anyone who knows how to use Google, space missions are still being conducted on the aging shuttle. Innovation has slowed to a crawl when it comes to space.

This lack of innovation has been blamed on NASA, but I think that's a short-sighted point of view. NASA can only do so much when its funding is constantly being reduced or withdrawn by congress. The actions of congress are really reflective of the nation as a whole. And that brings us to the more important point--American values have shifted and national progress has been displaced by the desire to have the next smaller cell phone or X-box 360. To try to curb this trend a few members of the upper echelons of the technology industry have begun to put up their own money to make space a reality for everybody.

In my opinion this is a great time to be a young mechanical engineer. These industry leaders are pioneering the future. Hopefully looking back on the launch of Sputnik will spark a new wave of innovation in space and hopefully I will have the opportunity to participate in this wave.