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Monday, July 20, 2009

Current and Near-Future Space Travel

This panorama of current and near-future space travel, provided by The Independent (UK), gives a view of the current upcoming endeavors and tensions of space travel, including lunar visits and to "infinity and beyond," to quote a certain cartoon character. The players are the U.S. and her partners, Russia and her partners, the Chinese, and commercial concerns such as Virgin Galactic. In some cases, such as the International Space Station, participants in the new space race are contestants and partners at the same time.

China is the new player, with an independent intention to land on the moon at about the same time that the U.S. intends to return there. Of course there are budget concerns.

However, space travel is not pretty. When did you ever see Captain Kirk excuse himself from the bridge for personal plumbing issues? "You have the bridge, Mr. Spock. I haffa go potty....Emergency! Scottie to the potty...Scottie to the potty...it's broken." In the now-crowded International Space Station, the poor near-spacemen and near-spacewomen are suffering such a catastrophe, with no convenience store or McD in a nearby orbit. (Were you aware that the ISS has a orbiting pay-potty?)

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