Geo016 - Exploration of Mars

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Geo016 / Exploration of Mars / (M) 3:00-5:20 / Lincoln Field 105 / Prof. James Head

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Cindy Beavon (05/05/04)

Even though we didn't have a super special astronaut guest today, I thought it was nice that we could just have dialogue between the class. That's the way most seminars are here. I do, however, think that we still have a time management problem. We had invited Mike (I think his name is?) to talk with us about the Phoenix program, which I don't know anything about, and was looking forward to. He chimed in twice in our conversation, bit I feel like we were just imposing our discussion on him, without asking him for input at any time. Additionally, in the beginning of class when Professor Head asked us for final thoughts on John Young, I thought the conversation could have ended much sooner. We were all getting anxious to bring the conversation elsewhere. On a personal note, I felt like I was reaching for support of my classmates when I was making my point about Captain Young being obsessed with the idea of putting lots of people in space, and I didn't find it. But that's okay, such is discussion. It would have been nice if a few more of the students felt more comfortable candidly responding, though. It was nice that the lights remained on all class, because sometimes when we have the lights off for a powerpoint, they stay off and I get drowsy.

My favorite point of the afternoon was from (Mike?). We had been stressing that Bush was trying to pick up political capital by bringing up this space initiative, but he said that, if this was such a selling point, why had no politicians done it before him? Very true, and it led me to think that, given the absence of Project Constellation in the State of the Union address, wouldn't he lose political capital if he makes this sweeping proposal to the United States and then decides to drop it? It made me even start questioning a paragraph I've outlined in my final essay, which is about how Bush's plan to pick up political capital fills in inconsistencies and confusion regarding why the manned space mission would be a good idea.

In general, I didn't feel particularly engaged in the conversation; I felt that it lost momentum often and when it picked up, there was much repetition. For example, when we started talking about the urgency of sending people into space in the interest of eventual colonization versus the reality of earth politics, I felt it could have gone a lot further. I also would have enjoyed more conversation regarding the origins of NASA, and start comparing the original visions to where we are now. I never knew NASA came into being, basically thanks to Kennedy. No wonder the space center is named after him. When Professor Head said something regarding “you'd think that if anyone was thinking in the long-term, it'd be NASA,” but I disagreed, and didn't have time to put in a thought as we were moving along the list of questions quickly. NASA is a government agency, therefore it's going to be mired in all the buracratic problems like funding and structure like any other department, like that of education or health and human services. More than any other private organization, the government has to appear fiscally responsible with our taxes, and realistically founded. Agencies like the Planetary Society and the like are much more justified in thinking “long-term,” as we say.
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