Author Robert Zimmerman shared his insights into the past, present and future of space exploration, and offered analysis of such projects as the Hubble Telescope, the International Space Station, and the Shuttle program.
Space programs hit a lull after the Russian and US competition died down in the 1960's, he noted. Part of the problem for the US was that they didn't develop a second generation line of shuttles, and the country has also lacked in innovation and risk-taking.A booster for continued space explorations, he argued that such journeys are relevant to humanity because they "make you greater than you are."
Private enterprise holds promise, he said, with the X-Prize contest generating interest from some 27 companies trying to build craft that can make short flights into space. The co-founder of Pay-Pal, Elon Musk, has started a particularly promising venture called SpaceX, he added. Ironically, since communism ended in Russia, their space efforts have flourished through freedom and competition, whereas in the US, efforts have lagged because they are controlled by a centralized bureaucracy, Zimmerman opined.