by Bob Barr
Blue state governors and blue city mayors are continuing to repeat their “sky-is-falling” outcries that people should be afraid to take a walk in the park without wearing a mask. Bureaucrats are continuing to issue repetitive dire warnings that the country, if not the world, is on the brink of Coronavirus Armageddon.
Thank goodness the scientists at NASA and the entrepreneurs working at Elon Musk’s SpaceX are not basing their actions on such doomsayers as New York City’s Bill de Blasio or California’s Gavin Newsom. We all should be thankful that neither Musk nor NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine are following the inconsistent edicts of Dr. Anthony Fauci, or the exaggerated wailing of Rick Bright, the disgruntled HHS fearmonger who recently was demoted by President Trump.
Weather permitting, just after 4:30 PM EDT on Wednesday, a SpaceX Falcon9 heavy rocket booster will lift off from the same launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center from which the Apollo 11 crew began their awe-inspiring journey to the moon. This week, nearly 51 years later, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be strapped into a “Crew Dragon” spacecraft chock-full of technology that makes the interior of the Apollo 11 Lunar Command Module, which was state-of-the-art in its time, pale in comparison. They will rendezvous the next day with the International Space Station (ISS).
Wednesday’s launch carries great significance; aside from the fact it is being undertaken while many government agencies and businesses remain afraid to do much of anything.
The launch will be the first time in nearly a decade that American astronauts have been carried into Earth’s orbit aboard an American-made rocket and from American soil. Since the end of the Space Shuttle program nine years ago, and with no follow-on heavy launch vehicle program available to replace it, NASA has been forced to rely on Russian rockets to send our astronauts to the ISS. This embarrassment will end when the Falcon9 rocket, with the Crew Dragon spacecraft at its tip, lifts off.
All of America’s previous manned space programs — the pioneering Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs of the 1960s and early 1970s, the brief 1973-74 Skylab project and the three-decade long Space Shuttle program that lasted from 1981 to 2011 – were launched on rockets owned by the U.S. government. Every American who has flown to the ISS up to now has done so aboard a rocket booster owned by the Russian government.
In a historic milestone, this week’s SpaceX launch will be the very first time astronauts have launched atop a rocket booster that is owned by a private company. An American company.
Trump has indicated he plans to attend the launch of the Crew Dragon spacecraft. If recent events are any guide, the president will not be wearing a face mask when he watches the historic event; neither, presumably, will Musk or Bridenstine.
It was on May 25, 1961 that President John Kennedy stood before the Congress and urged America to commit itself to what was then a remote dream, of landing men on the moon and returning them safely to the earth before 1970.
Thank goodness that today, precisely 59 years later, with millions of Americans being pummeled daily with dire warnings and exaggerated fears about COVID-19, we have a president, a NASA administrator and a SpaceX CEO (along with thousands of employees at both NASA and SpaceX) who share the mindset of John Kennedy rather than of Anthony Fauci.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s 7th District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003 and served as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986 to 1990. He now serves as President of the Law Enforcement Education Foundation based in Atlanta, Georgia.