Re: Relics of the Space Age
You're being a bit of a grumpy old pessimist. Not that I dissapprove, that's surely the correct attitude to take to life for an El Reg Commentard - grey of beard, long of tooth, arthritic hands still firmly gripping their cattleprod...
But nowadays we have the ISS, which definitely brings nations together in space. And I'd imagine that relations with Russia would be even worse without that link. Plus cooperation between them continuing into the lunar gateway.
We've still got engineers pushing the envelope of available technologies - after all who'd have thunk 20 years ago that a private company (SpaceX) would launch a payload on 3 rockets glued together and then land all 3 separately for later re-use? 2 nicely synchronised back at Kennedy Space Centre and one on a barge in the middle of the ocean!
We're living at the start of a new golden age of space research and technology.
Then we've got the New Horizons probe off looking for a Kuyper Belt object or two to take a peek at, having had a good long ogle at Pluto. A whole fleet of rovers on Mars - and we've landed on comets.
Not to mention all those lovely space telescopes. This very publication did a nice piece this week on the SOHO solar observatory. Hubble of course, with all those lovely images. But SOHO leads to my last point. Improvements in software don't get the glory, but they're the other technological leap that's revolutionising space science. SOHO was admittedly broken by cock-ups in software, so we need to be careful, but then it was also saved by new software development - as was Kepler - where the failure was mechanical, in the reaction wheels. That story was also covered well by El Reg.
Also, not only are we in a golden age of space - but I think there's a better chance of it being sustainable. Britain cancelled Black Arrow because the commercial market told the government it didn't even want a single launch per year, and neither did the government. Nowadays governments are spending more on space, but lots of it is on capabilities and science rather than just glory. Plus we've got SpaceX, Blue Origin, RocketLab and all sorts of others - and a healthy constellation of satellites that someone is eventually going to offer to repair/refuel - and that's what I'd expect to be paying for the first commercial astronauts.