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WORKS IN PROGRESS                    Between Heaven and Earth

Early October of 97 I heard a news broadcast that reported one out of every ten Americans goes to bed hungry. This report came out just before the launch of Cassini; a three year, three billion dollar, plutonium stuffed deep space probe that will study Saturn. Something didn't make sense to me.

"Between Heaven and Earth"

Part One begins with interviews revealing the public's lack of knowledge regarding space science and exploration. This is contrasted with their support for the continued exploration of space. These interviews reveal that the majority who support space exploration have "blind enthusiasm" for it. This quickly evolves to a sobering presentation that illustrates the myriad of social ills that contrasts the nearsightedness of blind enthusiasm.

Part One concludes with interviews from experts and archive footage which detail the history of space exploration. This historical perspective is critical of the successes and failures of manned and unmanned missions and establishes the role mission propaganda played and plays in creating space exploration's cultural legacy.

In Part Two, experts take us on a "tour" of current and future technologies involved in space exploration. Their interviews reveal any misconceptions or falsehoods about the science and technology behind missions to space.

Near the end of Part Two, the public is asked to define the terms "highly unlikely scenario" and "acceptable casualty factor". Experts discuss the meaning and source of these terms and how they apply to current and future missions. The Cassini mission is used as an example. Middle school children define these terms and share their opinions about Cassini.

Part Three exposes the political process involved in the creation, selling, maintenance and scrapping of missions. This is done by tracing the path that led to the construction of the International Space Station, and the planned mission to Mars. Tracing these missions show how they fulfill expectations of space exploration's cultural legacy. The role mission propaganda plays in maintaining these technological public works' projects is discussed in interviews with policy makers, former, current and future astronauts and their families. Also, interviews with families who have lost one of their own to a launch pad disaster are a focus. All give their perspective on the risks in space exploration and discuss its value.

In Part Four; Parts One, Two and Three are shown to and audience of adults.

They are the current owners of space exploration's cultural legacy. Also in the audience are middle school children. They represent the next generation who are expected to risk their lives in order to maintain this cultural legacy. All are asked: Is our desire to explore space based on a cultural legacy that is kept alive through mission propaganda? Or, is it based on reasoning which recognizes it as necessary to our survival? Are we putting the public at risk with missions like Cassini and are we spending too much at the exclusion of our social obligation to those less fortunate?