Hey anybody hear old enough to remember the Space Age? What you say we are still in the Space Age, no not really. This coming December 19, 2012 will mark forty years since a human stood on another world. No nation can duplicate that feat now. Yes we can still get to low earth orbit, or at least China and Russia can. But we've been fooling around in low Earth orbit for a bit over 50 years now. The Apollo program was intended to lead to a space station and maned lunar base but all that was canceled.
All the really important space science and discovery missions have been unnamed. Our robots have done wonders and could do much more if we re-routed the money from our maned space efforts. Think what we could have done with the money wasted on the now canceled Constellation program?
Not that the U.S. space program is the only exercise in futility, the russins have spent the last decade trying to come up with a successor to the Soyuz with out geting anything past the initial planing stage. As of now the only space program showing any real progress is the Chinese space program.
The whole concept of the Space Age was that orbital flights, space stations and lunar missions were just the first steps to Mars and beyond to a permanent human presence in space. We aren't even close to those goals. The ISS may be de-orbited as early as 2015 and won't last past 2020 in any case. If we're lucky China will be just starting to build their own space station then if their economy doesn't implode the way the west's has.
The Space Age was all bright and shiny when it started 50 years ago but that faded out in a little over a decade. If we're lucky in another decade or so we may have a new Space Age and this time the promise will be fulfilled. But for now all we have are fading memories and some Hollywood glitz, kind of sad really.