So last week some of the lucky few around the world were able to witness one of the most awe-inspiring spectacles I’ve heard of in a long time, that of the transit of Venus across the Sun, an event not again repeated until 2117, long after you or me is around. I was intent on watching the event upon hearing of it on the internet, but was once again thwarted by none other than good old English sods law and bad weather.
For us Brits, especially in the South, we were given a small 45min to 1 hour window to view the transit, beginning at 5am on the Wednesday and at a time when the weather has all but decided to dump a few months worth of cloud and rain on us. So alas, I was not able to catch this mind-blowing, once in a lifetime thing. Luckily for me, the internet was not short of footage from every angle, spectrum of light and location across the world, and when I came across NASA’s HD video, containing footage of the transit in every conceivable form, I was struck with a humbling feeling.
For those who’ve yet to see the NASA video, check it out through this link, I literally cannot urge you to enough without slapping you in the face with link itself.
This is why my post today is rather off topic in the scheme of things, as I just had to share my thoughts on the whole science of space and exploring it. It also coincides at a pretty interesting time in American space exploration and politics, and the rise of commercial, privatised rocket launches.
I find it incredible that only last month, the very first private space company, SpaceX, managed to launch successfully its Dragon spacecraft and smoothly resupply the ISS, a feat until now thought both unfeasible and unrealistically expensive. Yes, it’s true that SpaceX received some pretty fat government support and required financing from some pretty big names in the industries of technology, computing, energy and aeronautics, but the fact of the matter is this; the launch of Dragon inspired millions around the world to once again believe that space exploration can be exciting.
This couldn’t have come at a better time for the sector, one where budgeting and political support for manned missions and rocket launches has rapidly diminished, losing public and government support since costs began exploding and perceptions of rewards for all this money were seen to be little. Obama is unlikely to up the budget for NASA in the coming years given the political instability it could rouse throughout the USA, especially when elections are upon them and proper public spending a key factor.