Overnight Jordon Cooper linked to an article on MSNBC about the upcoming Space Shuttle mission to visit the Hubble space telescope. Or more accurately, about the increased risk of a catastrophic encounter with space debris on this mission.
I don't especially like articles like this, that deal in two different meanings of probability (one being a cross-section of risk factors, the other being an observed rate) as if they were the same somehow, but I'll let that slide, because I'm about to say something even sillier:
The underlying problem here has more to do with the dollar cost of space exploration not being an accurate measure of the true cost; in some sense each mission "uses up" space by leaving floating space debris, and some increase risk factors for later missions by leaving an asset (in this case, the space telescope) in space that has to be maintained.
I'm not sure how to measure true costs in advance, much less how to propose a sustainable approach to space exploration. But I'm not a big fan of space exploration generally, and frankly I think the Hubble telescope has been a giant waste of money from the start. If I woke up King of America tomorrow morning I'd probably retarget NASA's budget toward school lunches or wind farms.
exercises in compound storytelling