Friday, July 25, 2014

The US Republican Party: Bad Luck For America's Manned Space Exploration?

Even though it may be just an “unfortunate coincidence”, but have you notice that most American manned space exploration accidents happen during a US Republican Party administration? 

By: Ringo Bones 

It may be just an “unfortunate coincidence” from the perspective of any rational observers but have you noticed that an overwhelming number of misfortunes and tragedies of NASA’s major manned space exploration missions – and even their big-buck billion dollar unmanned space missions – tend to occur during a US Republican Party administration at the White House? Any conspiracy theorist with a “liberal streak” may think it is something else entirely, but ever since the “Space Race” began, it seems that the GOP seems to serve as a bad omen of America’s manned space exploration program. 

NASA’s first major space exploration tragedy – the Apollo 1, also known as Apollo Saturn-204 or “AS-204” fire that happened back in January 27, 1967 is probably the only manned space exploration tragedy that happened while a Democrat was in the White House – i.e. then US President Lyndon B. Johnson. And it seems that after the tragic incident, America’s manned space exploration program had been “good to go” until they became first to send a man to the Moon. 

The “(in)famous” Apollo 13 oxygen tank explosion disaster that happened back in April 13, 1970 that nearly ended in tragedy if not for astronaut Jim Lovell and his fellow astronaut’s heroism happened during a Republican’s watch under then US President Richard M. Nixon. Though it resulted in no loss of life as all astronauts returned safely back to Earth in April 17, 1970 - this incident seems to reinforce the notion that lends some credence that the GOP is a jinx on America’s manned space exploration. And let’s not forget that the “Apollo Moon Landing Conspiracy” that states that the Apollo 11 Moon landing was staged in a movie studio soundstage in Burbank, California was probably the result of a tit-for-tat political battle between America’s liberal and conservative population after the then US President Richard M. Nixon – who belonged to the “conservative” US Republican Party – earned the ire of American liberals of the time after he called the iconic Pulitzer Prize winning “Napalm Girl” photograph as “staged liberal propaganda”. 

The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster that happened back in January 28, 1986 happened under the watch of the most famous US Republican Party stalwart in recent history in the name of then US President Ronald Reagan. Though it is probably the most expensive single unmanned space program NASA undertook so far, the Hubble Space Telescope misshapen mirror debacle happened under Reagan’s watch when the aerospace / defense contractor who built the Hubble Space Telescope’s main mirror, Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, was refused access to the mirror testing rig used to test the main mirrors of the Keyhole reconnaissance satellites and could have saved millions of dollars in American taxpayers’ money if the optical defects of the Hubble’s main mirror was fixed down here on Earth in Lockheed’s clean room – as opposed to those risky EVA missions by astronauts to fix the Hubble Space Telescope that was later done in 1993. 

And let’s not forget the relatively recent Space Shuttle Columbia disaster back in February 1, 2003 where the venerable but aging workhorse of NASA’s manned space exploration program tragically burned up during the reentry as it returned back to Earth. Though US President Barack Obama – a Democrat – has been the current “piƱata” of the US Republican Party due to his decision to retire the aging, expensive to run and now largely unsafe Space Shuttle fleet of NASA, only time will tell if another Republican administration will “jinx” America’s manned space exploration program into a yet dramatic tragedy.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Should Astronauts And Cosmonauts Carry Firearms To Space With Them?

Though no space exploration agency officially admits that this is part and parcel of their operational policy but are there “incidental precedents” that necessitating astronauts and cosmonauts to carry firearms with them to space? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Just imagine the Soyuz capsule or any other human astronaut ferrying space exploration vehicle while returning to Earth from the International Space Station suddenly develop problems from their ballistic computer that inadvertently resulted in landing off-course hundreds of miles from their intended landing site and what if said astronauts suddenly find themselves in the middle of a conflict zone or remote wilderness area? Would one ask if they have the appropriate guns with them to defend themselves? Though I’ve been wishing since as far back as 1992 after seeing a somewhat similar scenario on the TV series Seaquest DSV and during 2005 after not seeing such scenarios featured in various “War on Terror” era action TV series such as The Unit, 24 or The E-Ring to pitch such a military operation scenario to rescue stranded astronauts held hostage on the Taliban controlled parts of Helmand Province in Afghanistan or North Korea. Even though not a single NASA director or the top brass at the current Russian Space Program both officially and openly discuss on allowing astronauts and cosmonauts the requisite firearms with them to space but should astronauts and cosmonauts carry appropriate firearms and other weapons systems in order to defend themselves whenever they got “stranded” in a hostile environment here on Earth and not just in case they meet hostile green or gray-skinned extra-terrestrial biological beings? 

The April 2008 Soyuz Space Capsule landing hundreds of miles off-course incident, though fortunately not in a hostile warzone or into a very remote Siberian wilderness may have saved mission commander PeggyWhitson and team from contemplating such a somewhat “unthinkable” scenario but back in 2010, someone managed to leak on the internet that carrying firearms with them to space has been part and parcel with Soviet-era cosmonauts since the early years of the “Space Race”. Since 1965, Soviet era Russian cosmonauts began carrying compact version shotguns with them on their space missions after a few months before a Soyuz capsule returning from Earth orbit landed hundreds of miles off-course from its intended landing spot in Kazakhstan and instead landed in a very remote spot in Northern Siberia. It took the then Soviet Air Force 3 days to reach the stranded cosmonauts and for a few nights only used the onboard flare guns to defend them from an incident involving being attacked by wolves. 

Some of today’s kids often quip the most often quoted answer that these astronauts are “non-combatants” and “are protected under international law” unbeknown to these kids who probably never been in a camping trip never mind part of their local Boy Scouts that “existing international laws and treaties” can never prevent astronauts, offshore oil rig workers, freight ship crew, etc. from having their heads cleanly blown off from a 666-Grain .50 caliber bullet travelling at 3,000-feet-per-second or being killed by wild animals like bears and wolves – never mind held for ransom for millions of dollars. With existing precedents and events, don’t be alarmed if NASA astronauts began to be seen with the same firearms being carried by NASA security personnel – like the Knights Armament Company’s Personal Defense Weapon / PDW with them whenever they go to and return from the International Space Station.