The space shuttle Atlantis flew its last mission on Thursday. After 30 years, there will be no more shuttle missions as the last shuttle flight was completed. If NASA wants to fly astronauts to the Space Station, they will have to go aboard a Russian spacecraft. Forty years after President Kennedy set the goal of putting a man on the moon and safely returning him to earth, the United States is without a spacecraft.

This comes at a time when the United States is in danger of defaulting on it debt for the first time in its history. Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, has repeatedly stated that the United States will not be able to fund its obligations after August 2nd unless congress raises the federal debt ceiling. Currently, the Federal debt is over $14 trillion dollars with state and local governments owing another $3 trillion. Forecasts show that the government has another $114 trillion in unfunded future liabilities unless officials can agree on reforms to social security and medicare. At the moment, this does not seem likely.

Is the last shuttle flight the definitive "Jump the Shark" moment in US history? The United States government is swimming with debt. They have ownership in a space station that they can't get to unless they hitch a ride from the Russians. It's the equivalent to building a house on an island when you don't own a boat and you're not on the best of terms with your neighbor that does have a boat.
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Steve Belli

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  1. Steve, you're making the erroneous assumption, made by so many others, that the U.S. Government is the only entity that can or should be creating spacecraft and advancing a spacefaring civilization. It is precisely because we have entrusted such an important enterprise solely to the government that we have brought about this "epic fail." But thankfully, the old Model T is now going to be sold for scrap, so private enterprise can get around to building the Tesla Roadster of the skies. Ready to hop on board Richard Branson's Space Ship 2?

  2. Does it negate the "jump the shark" moment for the government if private enterprise takes over future space missions? I'm not assuming that the government is the only entity that can do this. It looks pretty ugly that the US built a space station that they can't get to right now without the Russians.

  3. Obama shut down NASA to prevent Chris Christie from eating the moon. It may not be ideal but without the tides we are all screwed.

  4. Steve, the US did not build the International Space Station; an international coalition did, which includes the Russians. Allowing the Russians to be the sole transporters to the ISS for a year or two is fair and just compensation for us requiring them to deorbit MIR, which was aging, but could have been repaired and could have continued a useful life for many years, even augmenting the ISS program.

    The only thing the government has "jumped the shark" on is not enbracing private enterprise sooner. They totally closed down a private attempt to buy the MIR, and even put one of the partners in jail on trumped-up tax fraud charges. Then they did everything they could to block any alternatives to the officially-sanctioned NASA development programs, which all have gone precisely nowhere, because they were bloated, inefficient government programs.

    The only way to force them to allow private enterprise a shot was to shut down the artificial competition. It is exactly the same dynamic as removing the artificial support of the economy through the massive sale of government debt. Now the space industry must fall or fly on its own merits. It will not only fly; it will soar into space.

  5. Understood and agreed, Alex.

    If you built a vacation home with a group of disparate investors, and then you lost your car and had to depend on the other investors to take you to see and use your home, how good would you feel about it? Even though you did not put up all of the money, as a primary investor, would you represent that you built a vacation home? My understanding is that the coalition members own the sections of the space station that they build.

    It remains to be seen how long it will take private enterprise to build a shuttle "replacement". Time will tell if it's just a year or two or ten. To me, the ending of the shuttle program without a replacement vehicle still feels like a major setback to the US Space Program as we knew it.

    Another weekend has passed without a deal on the debt ceiling. Theoretically, the government shuts down next week. It seems as if the government can only get things done in a crisis. If the crisis at NASA allows private enterprise into the Space Race and it"s for the better, that's great for private enterprise...and a pivotal and visible failure of the government's stated objective.

  6. You're right, Steve, it is a setback for the US Space Program... and that's a good thing.

    Do you want Amtrak to be the only way you can get to your vacation home?

  7. I hate it when you guys fight.

  8. You should kiss and make up.

  9. The USA jumped the shark with the 1st moon landing in 1969 it has been downhill ever since. BTW we became a superpower in 1869 with the completion of the transcontenental railroad 100 year is nor exactly the Roman empire bu I guess it will have to suffice