In fairness to the American space program, which has been vilified by myself and my commenters as being too staid and unimaginative, I’m going to link to the NASA site that has the Constellation Program on it. Unbeknownst to myself, Constellation is the program that oversees all of the components of the American Manned Space Program after the shuttle fleet gets retired in 2010.
For the uninitiated, the components are; Ares booster rockets, the Orion crew capsule and various components of the Moon Lander and Moon Base(s). Most of this is old technology that is just getting a fresh coat of paint because of the price tag. At least the “technology” the elite are willing to display anyways. It seems that while certain members of the elite won’t concede any of the “high ground” to the Chinese and Russians, borrowing money for resource wars still take precident.
We could have done so much more over the past thirty some-odd years. Instead of building the first interstellar probes and already having viable colonies on the Moon and Mars, we’re just now preparing to go back to the Moon. And this is along the lines of Antarctic exploration and possible military bases, not future human migration.
Maybe Charlie Stross is right when he said that the economic aspect of human colonization of space isn’t doable, or if it’ll ever be doable. Maybe it’ll just fade into insignificance or be rendered moot if a Technological Singularity occurs. After all, a super-duper virtual reality world would probably be more appealing to people than being a “canned primate” in an hostile environment. Could this be a possible explanation to the Fermi Paradox? That’s a discussion for another day.
I’m kind of old fashioned though. I see the value of character enhancement through hard work and adversity. Being an augmented upload in a hyper-VR world might work for most people, but I consider that a cop-out. In that sense, pitiful space travel is better than no space travel.
Besides, the eleven year old kid in me hopes to be a canned primate someday.