Those who wish humans were spreading through the heliosphere faster than we are have lamented NASA's drive into the cul de sac of lower Earth orbit since the demise of Apollo. Billions and billions of dollars have been spent on flying the outdated Space Shuttle to what many believe is a boondoggle in the sky, the International Space Station. Yet the following tidbit of fact from a newsletter out of MIT suggests that the ISS may not have been a complete waste.
Really? A use for the ISS besides studying dead frog legs and how old men sag in space? Do tell!
If humans are going to successfully spread into the universe and make a home of it, we are going to need practice living and working in space. For all of the space station's faults, the ISS has provided a home for humans in space. Not the first, there were the Salyuts, Skylab and Mir before the ISS. In fact, humans have lived in lower Earth orbit nearly continuously since 1986 thanks to the Russians.
Yes but what crucially important piece of vital earth shatering information have we learned in those 20 years?
Let me awnser that question for you: nothing. Nada. Silch. Zero. Bupkis. Rien.
When they went to the Moon did NASA officials stop themselves and say "If humans are successfully going to go the Moon we are going to need practice living and working in space first?" Maybe. But I bet their jaws would've dropped if someone told them they should do 20 years of it first. That wasn't in the cards. That wasn't necessary. And neither is it now in my opinion.
When is enough enough? We know humans can live and work in space. We know we can do it. What we need to do is break the barrier of the high costs of the access to LEO that has been a ball and chain on humanity for the past thirty years.
Nice try tdr... But we're going to have to agree to disagree, 'cuz I'm still lamenting about the white elephant in the sky...
Addendum: This post came out slightly more bitter than I had intended. I just want to make it clear that it's not directed at tdr, it's directed at the issue at hand.