Science Friction

Architect Constance Adams designed an inflatable house that could take American astronauts to Mars. NASA wants to build it, but Congress keeps bursting the bubble.

"Some of the materials we're using are produced abroad….If America doesn't invest in it now, Germany will build one three years from now. They'll figure out how to do it….So we're either the first people, and then we're globally dominant again in a vital new type of technology, in a vital new field, or we're not, and we've just given it away to somebody else….We can sit here and say, 'Oh, the greatest country on earth!' But unless we do some work behind it, unless we invest in that and put our money where our mouth is, it's not true….Transhab is a very, very, very important part of that kind of decision that this country has got to start making again, which is to invest in itself. Do we have to have a cold war? Do we have to have an enemy in order to invest in ourselves?"

After: Twelve hours later, the full-blown, full-scale model is ready for astronauts.
Photo courtesy of NASA
After: Twelve hours later, the full-blown, full-scale model is ready for astronauts.
After: Twelve hours later, the full-blown, full-scale model is ready for astronauts.
Photo courtesy of NASA
After: Twelve hours later, the full-blown, full-scale model is ready for astronauts.

Exasperated, Adams thinks about taking a week of vacation and going to Washington to lobby Congress as a private citizen. Then, under her breath, she hopes NASA doesn't completely back off of space exploration beyond the International Space Station. She doesn't want to look for another job.

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