Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
DOC NYC ’16: Fight for Space
the Space Shuttle was decommissioned in 2011 the United States has not had
manned space flight capabilities. If we want to send an astronaut to the
International Space Station that we helped pay for, we have to hitch a ride
with the Russians. Maybe it is not so bad we just elected Putin’s bestie as the
45th president. You might think this would be an issue the candidates
for the highest office in the land would have addressed, but they were
obviously not so inclined. Many scientists and former astronauts try to start that
conversation now in Paul Hildebrandt’s Fight
for Space (trailer
which screens during DOC NYC 2016.
Apollo 11 Moon landing was one of the greatest moments in human history. Hildebrandt
and his impressive cast of interviewees briefly review the concerted effort
that got us there and review some of the remarkable resulting spin-off
technologies (GPS, for instance). However, they slow down to chronicle, step by
step, the budget cuts, political shifts in priorities, and painful tragedies
that now have NASA mired in confusion and self-doubt. It is a sad, but
are some eye-opening contentions in Fight,
including the argument NASA should have maintained and updated the Apollo-era Saturn
5 rockets rather than developing the Shuttle (which most observers now admit
was a flawed concept). It turns out that is exactly what the Russians did with
their Soyuz rockets. Evidently, there were also credible proposals floated at
NASA to get a crew to Mars with existing technology without busting the budget,
but unfortunately subsequent agency administrators opted to reinvent a bigger,
louder, dumber Saturn program.
Fight for Space is like one long
face-palm. We have gone from first to worst within a generation. NASA takes a
lot of flak during the film, but most presidential administrations look even
worse. George W. Bush is nearly an exception. He had the vision thing, but his
second appointed NASA Administrator receives particularly low marks.
assembled an impressive battery of experts to pass such judgements, including
former astronaut Jim Lovell, flight director Gene Kranz, space historian Jim
Logsdon, physicist Michio Kaku, and astronomer Neil DeGrasse Tyson. TV celebrity
Bill Nye also makes a few appearances, but his soundbites aren’t very
insightful. However, nobody can hold a candle to the garrulous wit and conviction
of Story Musgrave, the only astronaut who served on all five space shuttles.
Rick Tumlinson of the Space Frontier Foundation
makes a point in Fight that just
keeps ringing in our ears. He attributes the spread of lunatic fringe theories
about faked moon landings to the simple fact that we haven’t returned since
1972. Some of Hildebrandt’s experts make the economic argument regarding the
benefits of spill-over technology, whereas others are more idealist, in the Star Trek tradition. Yet, the real
question is whether we want to have an active role in the future or do we
prefer to leave it to other nations. Recommended as a persuasive wake-up call
for anyone concerned about our place in the world and the universe, Fight for Space screens this Monday
(11/14) and Tuesday (11/15), as part of DOC NYC 2016.
Labels: DOC NYC '16, Documentary