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Virginia is For Rocket Lovers

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Last night, a rocket launched from Virginia to the moon.

What a wonderful thing to bolster our pride in this state, after all the depressing news we’ve had to bear about scandals and reactionary politics.  And what a fitting tribute to the Commonwealth that once hosted the great intellects behind the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution – Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, James Madison.  

Scientific and technological breakthroughs don’t happen by accident, they occur because of leadership — academic, industrial and political.  As one article from 2010 noted:

Virginia has put some effort into supporting a commercial space sector, anchored by NASA Wallops. In 2004, governors Bob Erlich of Maryland and Mark Warner of Virginia created the MARS partnership. And in recent years the General Assembly passed two laws to make the state more friendly to space transportation companies. The 2007 Virginia Space Liability and Immunity Act gives companies some legal shelter in the event of a mishap, and the Zero G Tax Act of 2008 provides an exemption to companies doing business in the state with plans to launch from MARS or to do spaceflight training.

Yes, tech-savvy political leaders like Mark Warner make the difference between a state that moves forward into the 21st century, and one that falls backwards into irrelevance and decay.  Which brings us to the current race for governor.  

We have one candidate, Terry McAuliffe, who is a huge booster of scientific research and high-tech as key to the state’s further economic development.  As recently as yesterday, he was touring technology-based businesses and making headlines like “Scientific Research Should be Priority in Virginia”.

On the other side, we have Ken Cuccinelli, who spent two years on a witch hunt against climate scientist Michael Mann and the University of Virginia, costing U-VA over half a million dollars in legal fees – money that should have been spent on research and education, not on defense against fossil fuel-funded fanatics.  Would any scientist in his or her right mind want to live in a state governed by this guy?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which candidate would be better for Virginia – and which one deserves to be walloped November 5th.

  • jack russell

    They set up a big-screen in a public park on the water.  Once the sun went down, they showed a movie (October Sky), and there were quite a few people there sitting in lawn chairs.  After that was over, someone from NASA came up for some Q/A, and we could watch the preparations.

    The actual launch pad is right on the ocean (Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport) – not at the Wallops Island flight facility.  That threw some people who were setting up their chairs looking due west (the launch pad was about 9 miles southwest of where we were sitting).

    At launch time, we suddenly saw a bright orange light on the on the horizon.  Seconds later we could see the actual rocket rising into the sky.  It climbed up almost over the top of our heads and headed out to see.  About the time of the 1st stage separation, we heard a low rumble – almost like thunder.  That was the sound of the launch itself which had taken just under a minute to reach us.

    Traffic getting out of there afterwards was kind of a pain, but it was still worth it.