Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Planetary Society's Solar Sail project a failure?

"If you're not taking risks...you're not doing the right thing"

Bruce Murray uttered these words as it became obvious that Cosmos 1, the pioneering "solar sail" craft, unique also in that it is privately funded, had failed to attain proper orbit due to a presumed booster failure.

Murray's words apply to so many diverse subjects, but perhaps none quite so much as space exploration. Like fish out of water, humans...or indeed human constructs...in space face numerous challenges just in getting there, not to mention space operations themselves.

Even in apparent defeat, Murray's words should propel us and the Planetary Society forward rather than back. This project had a $4 million budget, a paltry sum compared to the typical NASA cost-fest, and the benefactors have some deep pockets.

Here's to the "success" of Cosmos 1. Success? Most assuredly, as it was an important learning experience, and a timely reminder that we are not always infallible, if indeed we ever are.

Cosmos 2 is the only reasonable next step.

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