In 1984, President Regan directed NASA to build the International Space Station (ISS). The living space on this ISS is bigger than a five bedroom home. End to end, the ISS is as long as the Aggie football stadium, including the goal posts. Top to bottom, it has more depth than the stadium. The ISS has been continuously occupied now for almost thirteen years. It is the third brightest object in the night sky. If you want to get notified by NASA when it is passing over go to http://spotthestation.nasa.gov/ and sign up. I remember the first time I wrote in the article about ISS, I got plenty of emails from my NASA colleagues, urging more people to look up. Summer is coming; it is perfect Station spotting season. Maybe this time next year we will have student experiments being built in labs to eventually go to station. It is now possible.
Soon we may be able to get student experiments manifest onto station through the CASIS lab. In October, William Gerstenmeir, Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations , the CASIS lab director, Jim Royston, and even the President of SpaceX, Gwynne Shotwell will be coming to Las Cruces to talk about this facility. It is the beginning for taxpayers to participate in a great leap for human knowledge, started in 1984.
In his State of the Union address, President Regan stated, “A space station will permit quantum leaps in our research in science, communications…NASA will invite other countries to participate so we can strengthen peace, build prosperity, and expand freedom for all who share our goals. The market for space transportation could surpass our capacity to develop it. Companies interested in putting payloads into space must have ready access to private sector launch services.We’ll soon implement a number of executive initiatives, develop proposals to ease regulatory constraints, and, with NASA’s help, promote private sector investment in space.”
The Shuttle and the Russian Soyuz, both government developed and operated launch vehicles, ferried the construction materials and “construction worker” astronauts to space to build the ISS. In 2012, with significant private investment after nearly a billion dollar NASA investment, the privately built Falcon 9 docked its Dragon capsule with the ISS. SpaceX is the first private American launch company to dock with ISS. President Regan predicted this day would come. And hopefully, we will manifest a New Mexico experiment on ISS.
President Regan, and all succeeding Presidents, supported the public private partnership for the future of space faring nations. The free world will work in space together. We are still on course. The importance of maturity is that we learn as we age. Visionaries who are builders and partners look to benefit mankind. They understand it takes partners and peace to build. We can’t grow and take giant leaps in knowledge if we are at war.
The International Space Station (ISS) was a post cold war science and engineering super project. It was a political decision. It was made, in part, to keep the Russian scientists occupied on something as prestigious as being the major builder, along with the United States, in a project of stunning magnitude. Big enough even for the Russians to agree, cooperating was better than competing with the winners of the cold war. How did we beat the Russians? Not militarily, we beat them with capitalism. The consumer beat the Kremlin. And here is where we, the American public, the mighty consumer have a role to play, we have great power.
Did anyone notice how quickly Congress leapt into action after the FAA Air Traffic Controller furloughs started on Monday. The agency says it can shave off $200 million through the furloughs of 47,000 employees, including about 13,000 air-traffic controllers, and that it has few other places where savings can be achieved. The American consumer, the taxpayers, got furious with Congress and it took five working days to fix the problem with the air traffic controller furloughs.
I’d like the consumer – doing business as the American taxpayer, to look at building our nation through positive action. The ISS will create giant leaps in human knowledge. In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the ISS as a national laboratory. It is finally becoming possible for our students and faculty to use this laboratory facility called the Center for Science in Space – CASIS. We will take the first steps this week in discussing this option with the Las Cruces Public School leadership. Keep looking up.
Watch ISS live at http://spacestationlive.nasa.gov/