Just days after we talked about
NASA’s Dawn space craft about to enter orbit around a giant asteroid, Vesta, comes word
that the space agency will attempt to visit one and bring back some bits of it.
Scheduled to launch in 2016, the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx, will be the first American spacecraft whose mission is to dig up samples of an asteroid and, to paraphrase JFK, bring them safely back to earth.
Speaking of JFK, it was 50 years ago this week that he made his famous address to Congress, pledging America’s intention to send men to the moon before the end of the decade (1969). Books about the space race abound. But on Science Friday,
we will talk about some of the more interesting, behind the scenes political and scientific discussions that led JFK to stick his neck out with that pledge. And given the fact that we went there, and never went back (canceling the last three missions), historians are wondering if the trip to the moon might have been a short term success but a long term failure.
What do you think?