Mars Wars The Rise and Fall of the Space Exploration Initiative

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  1. The View from Space
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Luke also encounters Darth Vader, a Jedi knight who has fallen to the dark side, and — spoiler alert! With the help of his allies and others in the rebellion, Luke destroys the Death Star, a planet-killing satellite, as well as its bigger, more powerful replacement. In a final showdown, Luke confronts the Emperor and battles Darth Vader, who redeems himself by turning against the Emperor and aiding his son.

Director George Lucas expressed frustration with the technology of the s and s, and when digital technology came along in the s, he chose to re-edit the originals and in some cases, alter or add scenes.

Tesla's Million-Mile Battery, Thunberg's UN Speech, and More

The most infamous scene came in the first movie. The original version of "A New Hope" has Han Solo shooting the bounty hunter Greedo, while the re-mastered version has Greedo firing first. Lucas also released three prequels between and — "The Phantom Menace," "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith" — to chart the path of Darth Vader's rise and fall, and the birth of Luke and —spoiler alert!

In , Disney announced that it would take over the franchise's production and pledged to release several sequel films to the original series. The first of these films, "The Force Awakens," premiered in December It is set many years after "Return of the Jedi" and concerns the aftermath and legacy of the Empire's defeat.

As popular culture became entrenched in "Star Wars" references, words, phrases and ideas from the franchise entered the vernacular of science and technology.


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In , President Ronald Reagan proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative, which would use ground- and space-based lasers, particle beams, missiles and other weapons to help protect the United States from attack by nuclear missiles. Critics derisively referred to it as "Star Wars. The defense system would have some parts of it based in space.

One idea, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, was Earth- and space-based laser systems that could simply put shoot down missiles before they reached their target. The proposal also called for surface-to-air missiles placed beside strategically important locations such as ICBM silos.

The program led to the development of items such as the Extended Range Interceptor, which successfully caught a missile in-flight in testing in The U.

The View from Space

Army also had a successful hit-to-kill on a target on the fourth try with a Minuteman missile, in The program was eventually abandoned. There were concerns that the program violated the anti-ballistic missile treaty that was part of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, according to the Cold War Museum.

The program was also killed due to budget cuts and lack of results. In , shuttle Discovery launched Luke Skywalker's lightsaber into space to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the franchise. The ceremonies on the ground surrounding its handover to NASA included appearances by Chewbacca and Imperial stormtroopers. Close-up images of Saturn's moon Mimas in our own solar system showed it looks similar to the Death Star , which had a distinctive circle on one side of its sphere shape.

In real life, the moons that have these large circles are actually showing off the remnants of a large asteroid smacking into the surface and leaving behind a crater. Most of the planets that orbit two stars are huge gas giants, but a handful of planets similar to Earth have been found as well, such as Kepler 16b, Keplerb, Kepler 35b. In , a study from the University of Utah suggested these sorts of planets might be more common than was once thought.

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Simulations showed it was possible that planetesimals — the precursors to planets — could safely orbit in an oval around two stars without necessarily crashing into each other. While the executive branch may be considered by many as dictating plans and budgets to the congress, the legislative branch has shown time and time again that when it comes to spending, if it does not meet their criterion for investment, it simply does not happen.

Almost fifteen years later the son of the president who announced the Space Exploration Initiative announced his own ambitious space effort to return to the Moon to stay and then on to Mars. There was a subtle difference between the Sr. Bushs speech and the sons speech. For the first time resources derived from the Moon were placed into the critical path of the development of the lunar outpost and the trip to Mars:.

Returning to the moon is an important step for our space program. Establishing an extended human presence on the moon could vastly reduce the costs of further space exploration, making possible ever more ambitious missions. Lifting heavy spacecraft and fuel out of the Earth's gravity is expensive.


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  6. Spacecraft assembled and provisioned on the moon could escape its far lower gravity using far less energy, and thus, far less cost. Also, the moon is home to abundant resources.

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    Its soil contains raw materials that might be harvested and processed into rocket fuel or breathable air. We can use our time on the moon to develop and test new approaches and technologies and systems that will allow us to function in other, more challenging environments. The moon is a logical step toward further progress and achievement.

    This is the first time in presidential speech history that resources from the Moon are explicitly described as a part of the exploration plan. During the SEI era lip service was done to the concept but it was never truly integrated into the plan.

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    John Marburger at the 44th Robert Goddard memorial symposium in As I see it, questions about the vision boil down to whether we want to incorporate the Solar System in our economic sphere, or not. Our national policy, declared by President Bush and endorsed by Congress last December in the NASA authorization act, affirms that, "The fundamental goal of this vision is to advance U.

    The wording of this policy phrase is significant. It subordinates space exploration to the primary goals of scientific, security, and economic interests. Stated this way, the "fundamental goal" identifies the benefits against which the costs of exploration can be weighed.

    This is extremely important for policy making because science, security, and economic dimensions are shared by other federally funded activities. By linking costs to these common benefits it becomes possible, at least in principle, to weigh investments in space exploration against competing opportunities to achieve benefits of the same type.

    These two amazing paragraphs accomplish what had been sought by both congress and executive branch leadership for the previous 35 years. However, the speech was also a warning in that in the weighing of investments NASA has come up wanting in terms of its contribution to our economic competitiveness and national security.

    He explicitly stated this later in the speech when discussing the budget increases for the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation that were a part of the American Competitiveness Initiative:. Opportunities exist in other fields of physical science as well, such as nuclear and particle physics, space science and exploration, but these are not emphasized in the Competitiveness Initiative. Not that the U. The decision to make this needed adjustment for selected fields does not imply a downgrading of priority for other important areas of science, such as biomedical research and space science.

    These remain priorities, but the agencies that fund them are regarded as having budgets much more nearly commensurate with the opportunities, challenges, and benefits to be gained from pursuing these fields. As the nation pursues other critically important objectives, including reducing the budget deficit, the ACI gives priority to a small number of areas to ensure future U.


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    Thus we come to the quandary that represents today and NASAs newest plan for lunar and Mars exploration. The problem is not the rocket, it is the plan of what we do when we get to the Moon. While there are many who would strenuously argue that the transportation architecture represented by the ESAS study as implemented with billions of dollars of taxpayer money is the wrong one, in the end, this argument misses the greater point.

    The point is that there is virtually no plan at all to carry out the truly remarkable plan to use resources derived from the Moon for further exploration. The epitome of the divergence from the vision as laid out by the president is the statement by the NASA administrator that all we need is a good map, to get back to the Moon. There are statements that encapsulate all the problems of a plan, and this statement is the one that made it clear that NASA has no interest in carrying out the VSE as envisioned by our elected leadership and why in the competition for federal resources, NASA is losing.

    Congress has already in this past fiscal year budget passed a provision forbidding NASA to continue to study the mission to Mars. Recently it has been stated that NASA will be on a continuing resolution budget freeze until after the election. It has also been stated that NASA is to not put together a budget for fiscal year but let the new administration deal with it.

    Since three out of three of the current candidates have already stated either a freeze in discretionary spending or specific cuts to the ESAS architecture, the chess pieces are already in place for the VSE to go the way of SEI. It is up to the leadership of NASA to continue driving the train toward the cliff or figure out a way to make NASA relevant to the nation in a way that it has not been since July of Congress is an additional factor this time around as well.

    In this segment after discussing all of the things that it was going to do, they asked senior congressman Senator Barney Frank what he thought. His response could be cloned from any number of similar statements by congress persons over the last forty years. His statement was in paraphrase thus:.