What can YOU say in six sentences?
In addition to having one of the coolest names imaginable, Gary Flandro also has an important insight: the alignment of the planets in our solar system in the year 1977 will afford us a chance to reduce the timeline of a "Planetary Grand Tour" from forty years to ten by allowing two spacecraft launched toward the gas giants (Jupiter and Saturn)and the ice giants (Uranus and Neptune) to utilize Jupiter's gravitational force to recalibrate their courses and basically slingshot them along their new trajectories.
This favorable alignment won't occur again for another 177 years.
By the time Voyager 2 reaches Neptune in 1989, an excess of 11,000 workyears will have been devoted to the mission by men and women in rumpled lab coats at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, their pockets heavy with pencils and pens and calculators, noses sore from their glasses, breath bad from lucky peanuts, askance glances at their co-workers and the fraught sexual tension that attends discovery, data streams and daydreams. This is how we reach for an apex of design, via spatial engineering and innovation and communication and the re-appropriation of fuel distilled from the compacted remains of lumbering creatures who once bellowed at the very same sky we seek to circumscribe, all in the service of hurling a contraption of cameras and sensors deeper into the void than we have ever gone before.
In 1977, these scientists and engineers don't have any idea just how far that will turn out to be--and neither do the millions of taxpayers footing the bill. What we do know, what we share, is the awareness that once you've embarked on such a reckless expansionism, you are carrying the heart's blood of American history with you; to turn back is to turn away, to spurn a chance that comes only once every 177 years.