Eleven years ago (September 13th, 2007), Google announced one of the most challenging prizes in the human history, called the Lunar X Prize. Twenty million USD, plus a number of bonuses, for the first privately funded spacecraft able to reach the Moon and perform some task on our satellite.
There has been a lot of noise in the ‘net about the future of the A-10 “Warthog”, probably the best CAS airplane ever, due to obsolescence of the project and for setting the stage for the new F-35. For the non-initiated, the acronym CAS stands for Close Air Support, where “close” means attacking a few meters from the ground in very hostile environments, in order to give a real support for the troops. The whole set of polemics touched moments of absolute estrangement from reality, until the will of the US armed forces has been made clear: the A-10 MUST stay, until something better will come under way. So our american friends will keep their fantastic tank-killer on duty for some more years, leaving the same old question for the European allies: what will you do to give any CAS to your troops?
All right, the title was a bit optimistic. Let’s say that “the corner” is ten years from now. Or maybe less. But the future is coming, with all the precision that we commonly associate to the word “laser“. Yes, this one is about laser. And about the way it will be used in the near future.
In the last ten years or so, we got more and more news in the feed about the use of drones in all the major conflict zones. Acronyms like UAV or UCAV became part of our lingo and countless videos on YouTube or Vimeo showed us in full degree what happened in Afghanistan or in Iraq (or in other places) when a Hellfire missile hit its intended target on the ground.
Everybody knows about the Flying Tigers, the American air fighters group in China in WWII. Aside from the movies and all the narrative stuff, that was about a group of American personnel that acted in China, fighting side by side with Chinese against the forces of the Japanese Empire. They learned a lot from the experience made in Spain, where they fought against Italian and German pilots in the civil war that precedeed WWII.
But the Chinese were actively looking for warplanes in the ’30s, knowing for sure that war against Japan will come. So they looked for any option available, including purchasing Italian warplanes. So there was a time when the Kingdom of Italy supplied with machines and personnel and only the political decision to favor the Japanese side. In my country, referring to that years, there was somewhat a technological clash between those who favored a more traditional kind of airplane, biplanes, and those who were looking forward to the monoplane models inspired by American manifacturers.
It’s been a while since the last time I’ve posted an entry on this blog, my apologies to the readers. I’ve been quite busy with the science fiction blogzine “Il futuro è tornato” (The Future Is Back) that I run with an bunch of friends and with all the complications of italian politics (yeah, I still believe in the system so sue me and bla-blah-blah).
Now it’s Xmas time, isn’t it? I don’t like this kind of stuff but with a six-year old son I’ve got to celebrate, the little guy get his rights oh-ho-ho. So it’s high time for all of you to get a full payload of season greetings from Italy and watch out for what it comes down from the sky!
Image by Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon, USAF.
I’m reading a wonderful book (Return to the Moon), an essay by Harrison H. Schmitt (former astronaut, the last man on the Moon with Apollo 17 mission); this is a citation from this book – words to be remembered:
“Whenever and however a Return to the Moon occurs, one thing is certain: that return will be historically comparable to the movement of our species out of Africa about 150,000 years ago. Further, if led by an entity representing the democracies of the Earth, a Return to the Moon to stay will be politically comparable to the first permanent settlement of North America by European immigrants.”
You know, we have to go back to the Moon. The sooner, the better. And Mr. Schmitt is the right man for tell us how this new frontier has to be tackled.