No wonder why people are not interested in space anymore.
A few days ago, I read the headline that titles this post. JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) is Europe’s attempt to prospect the biggest galilean moons for signs of life and landing sites for future missions (maybe in the year 2150).
JUICE is expected to reach Jupiter in 2030 and spend at least three years studying the gas giant’s major moons. The mission’s cost will be around $1.1 billion, barring any unforeseen (but common) setbacks.
JUICE is arguably one of the most promising and exciting missions of the past few decades, but nobody -within the general public- gives a damn thing about it.
Unfortunately, JUICE is not alone. Joining it are dozens of similar missions.
I first heard of New Horizons (a Mission to Pluto) in 2002. The probe launched in 2006 and is still cruising. NH will make it to Pluto’s system in 2015. In these ADHD ridden times, how would you expect me to keep my attention and interest for more than a decade?
In 1962, JFK compelled NASA to go to the Moon and back by the end of the decade. The space race peaked, and space was the center of attention in the media. It’s no coincidence that the US entered a Golden Age.
Today, we live in a real-time world. Things happen now, tomorrow, next moth or maybe in a year… but if it hasn’t happened by then, forget it; there are too many things to pay attention to and tangible ROI is always around the corner.
Why would I care about something that is going to be launched in 10 years and make it to its destination in 16. That’s in another life!
One is kind of unavoidable: we simply don’t have the technology to make it faster. Maybe tomorrow. But not today.
The second one is the most worry-some. Let me illustrate:
- NASA’s FY 2012 budget: $18.7 billion.
- US FY2010 Defense budget: $1.030–$1.415 trillion
Can you spot the difference?
The potential for game changing advancements in technology, medicine, physics and cultural paradigm shifts ( link to video of Neil deGrasseTyson -who proposes doubling -yes, just doubling, NASA’s budget- linking culture and space) get delayed by decades at a time.
Imagine what could be accomplished if governments inverted those figures above.