T.A. Heppenheimer's analogy (Editorial Pages, Jan. 29 and 31) of the space shuttle to the Model T Ford is false. A more appropriate one is to the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost of 1907.
Like the Rolls, the shuttle is a plaything available only to the very wealthy; in the shuttle's case not English aristocrats but the government, military and big corporations, even to the point of tolerating monetary losses when the intention is to make money.
The Model T, on the other hand, was affordable to everyone. This would be the equivalent of Christa McAuliffe purchasing her own shuttle or financing the trip out of her own household budget. To progress forward to the technologies that Heppenheimer describes is a self-defeating if the result is to replace the Rolls with a Ferrari, in terms of cost and affordability to the average citizen who desires to participate in space activity.
What is needed is a fundamental restructuring of space activity so that the average citizen, like Christa McAuliffe, can afford to purchase the equivalent of the "Tin Lizzy." As it is, ordinary people are in the position of the servants in Buckingham Palace, watching the King of England tooling around in a vehicle forever beyond their means.
Any expansion into space must be for the whole human race, not just those segments of society comprised of test pilots or university Ph.Ds. Our cosmic heritage is for us all!
ALEXANDER S. WHITAKER