U.S. risks ced­ing space dom­i­nance to China

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Given the past few years of eco­nomic hard­ship, it’s easy to think the era of boundless op­por­tu­nity that has char­ac­ter­ized the Amer­i­can story is com­ing to an end. In times such as these, it’s com­fort­ing to re­mem­ber that as long as we re­tain our in­quis­i­tive na­ture, our dis­cov­er­ies could yield pos­si­bil­i­ties for bet­ter days ahead.

The space shut­tle En­deav­our re­turned to Earth af­ter its fi­nal mis­sion on June 1. In­stal­la­tion of the Al­pha Mag­netic Spec­trom­e­ter (ASM), a state-ofthe-art par­ti­cle physics de­tec­tor, on the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion dur­ing its 16-day mis­sion shows how much will be rest must be in the form of “dark” mat­lost with­out our own manned space fleet.ter. The ASM is de­signed to de­tect in­for­maast month, as­tronomers pro­duced tion em­a­nat­ing from far be­yond our own ev­i­dence con­firm­ing that a force other galaxy to dis­cern clues re­gard­ing the than grav­ity was re­spon­si­ble for the ac­struc­ture and ori­gin of the uni­verse. cel­er­at­ing ex­pan­sion of the uni­verse. NASA sci­en­tists are look­ing specif­i­cally for ev­i­dence of the ex­is­tence of an­ti­mat­ter and dark mat­ter. Stars, or vis­i­ble mat­ter, ac­count for just 5 per­cent of the mea­sure­ments of the mass of the uni­verse. Sci­en­tists sup­pose much of the Two stud­ies by Aus­tralian as­tronomers ac­cepted for pub­li­ca­tion by the Royal As­tro­nom­i­cal So­ci­ety con­cluded “dark en­ergy” is at work in the way clus­ters of gal­ax­ies formed fol­low­ing the Big Bang 16 bil­lion years ago and in the subse-

It is sad to see the U.S. space-shut­tle pro­gram grounded . . . just as Bei­jing ap­pears ready to kick off its own space-ex­plo­ration pro­gram.

quent dis­tri­bu­tion of gal­ax­ies in space.

It’s hard to know if any of this new knowl­edge about the fun­da­men­tal com­po­si­tion of the uni­verse will have any prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tion for im­prov­ing life on Earth, but there is sel­dom cer­tainty on the fron­tiers of dis­cov­ery. Too few are pre­dis­posed to ven­ture be­yond their com­fort zones, but those who do are of­ten the ones who change the world. Re­cent his­tory has shown that an in­or­di­nate pro­por­tion of those who are in­clined to do so have been Amer­i­cans.

That’s why it is sad to see the U.S. space-shut­tle pro­gram grounded next month af­ter a 30-year run, just as Bei­jing ap­pears ready to kick off its own space-ex­plo­ration pro­gram with the ultimate goal of send­ing a manned mis­sion to Mars.

Let us hope that the next gen­er­a­tion of Amer­i­cans can rekin­dle the in­quis­i­tive spirit that has char­ac­ter­ized our na­tional iden­tity and re­store U.S. pre­em­i­nence in space. The same ir­re­press­ible zest for know­ing what’s out there is bound to help us hur­dle the ob­sta­cles that now con­front us down here.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.