Last week I mentioned the movie The Rescuers Down Under, and it got me thinking about my top 5 favourite movies that take place in Australia, so here they are (in reverse order);
The Dish tells the amazing story of a remote Australian village that has a satellite dish, that will provide radio and communication support for the Apollo 11 Mission. While the movie takes some artistic liberties, it does an amazing job of capturing the the excitement of culmination of the space race. Watching the movie it is easy to see how the events of this era inspired a generation of young people to engage in the sciences, even watching the trailer for this movie makes me want to go join NASA (maybe this attempt would be more successful than my first try). But sadly things at NASA aren’t so great these days. The Space Shuttle Program is over, and the future of manned missions to explore beyond low earth orbit looks very uncertain. The last shuttle mission was the STS-135, which ended on July 21, 2011 when Atlantis touched down. Matt Mira, a contributor to one of my favourite podcasts, made the trek down to Florida to watch and document the launch. His coverage of the event is great, and nerdy, and truly captures the excitement of someone who has long been interested in the space program. Check it out here, here, here, and here.
The sadness that is the current state of NASA has been thoroughly discussed by Neil deGrasse Tyson, and is part of the subject of his new book, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier. He discusses the problems with NASA, its legacy, and a whole bunch of other great things with Ira Flatow on NPR’s Science Friday (listen or read here).
While the prospects of going into outer space might be grim in my lifetime, there are still ways that the individuals can pretend to be astronauts. Although who knows, maybe under a President Gingrich administration, we will get back to the moon sooner than later. That is by no means an endorsement of Gingrich, but rather an endorsement of the moon.