The situation in Japan is grim. Estimates of the dead or missing — and by now this latter group must be moved into the dead column — is above 25,000 souls. A half-million residents are homeless, with many in danger of starvation since roads and railroads have simply disappeared. Yet the world’s media pays only lip service to the plight of Japanese citizens. It is almost entirely focused on the disabled nuclear reactors and the “leaks” of radiation that have had, and will have, virtually no effect on human health.
Apple, Inc. finds itself amidst controversy once again, this time provoking the criticism of privacy watchdogs which are demanding an explanation as to why its iPhones and iPads are secretly collecting location data on their users. Other mobile service companies maintain similar records but require a court order to release the information.
Private industry is making progress toward lowering the cost of space flight, and NASA would like to come along for the ride.
Among the earliest actions of the Obama administration was the appointment of the “Augustine Committee,” which was given the responsibility of carrying out a review of NASA’s manned space program. The result of the committee deliberations was a NASA with its budget intact, but without a mission or mandate to go anywhere. The previous administration’s plans for a return to the Moon and eventual missions to Mars were abandoned — few presidential administrations are interested in implementing the showpiece programs of their predecessors.
This week marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most significant milestones in the “Space Race” between the United States and the Soviet Union, and it comes at a time when Russia once again hopes to sprint head of any rival space program.