Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Obama's Startling Lack of Vision: "We Certainly Don't Need to Go Back to the Moon"

Progress - noun - 1. Positive development. development, usually of a gradual kind, toward achieving a goal or reaching a higher standard.

2. Advancement of human society. the general advance of human society and industry over time toward a state of greater civilization.

3. A concept that the Obama administration cannot grasp.

If you wondered, even for a moment, that all of the wrong-headed decisions made in just one year by our rookie president were at all the result of inexperience, wonder no more. The Obama administration announced that it plans to drastically reduce the technological edge in space that America has worked so hard to achieve over the last half-century by killing the Constellation program, the Ares cargo rocket, and cancelling plans to return to the Moon.

Dr. Werner Von Braun once said that research and development was the steam that made our economic engine move. While that quote sounds quaint in today's world, his point remains a salient one. Presidents from Eisenhower forward have appreciated the unique role of America's space program in society. The innovation and scientific advancements fuel our free market system and generate new jobs. New products generate new sources of tax revenue, offsetting their initial cost to the taxpayers. Thus, NASA is one of the few, if not the only, government program that shows a return to the investor/taxpayer.

Space exploration has other intangible benefits in addition to an economic boost. Countless youngsters have been captivated by the idea of exploring the heavens. The unleashing of curiousity in a young mind has great potential for good. Who knows what great discoveries lie ahead for a child watching his or her first live Shuttle launch?

Obama has stripped young Americans of a very big dream. He’s done a disservice to every science teacher in the country. He’s robbed the Treasury of untold mountains of tax revenue. He is single-handedly responsible for the loss of thousands more jobs in the middle of the worst recession the country has seen in decades. In one fell swoop, Obama has proven that he’s of a small mind, void of vision. He is determined to bring America down as the worlds’ innovator, reducing our technological edge over other countries at a time when we need to be more competitive in the global marketplace.

Progress. I don't think the word means what you think it means, Mr. Obama.


Anonymous said...

> Dr. Werner Von Braun once said that research and development was the steam
> that made our economic engine move.

If that's true, we should rejoice, because the new space plan restores much of the research and development that was cut by the Bush Vision of Space Exploration.

Ares and Constellation do not represent a "technological edge in space." They are a throw-back to Project Apollo. The technological edge disappeared from NASA when the Bush Administration abandoned all efforts to develop cheaper access to space. It still exists in the private sector, where companies like Virgin Galactic, XCOR, and SpaceX have picked up the gauntlet.

The new plan will replace an expensive government-owned space transportation system with efficient, lower-cost private-sector alternatives. These cost reductions will allow NASA to explore not just the Moon, but the asteroids, lagrange points, Mars, and more; sooner, cheaper, and in larger numbers than would otherwise be possible.

To create incentives for private enterprise, NASA will be setting aside $6 billion to purchase transportation to ISS for crew and cargo. All future launch systems will be developed commercially, not by NASA.

This is the one thing Obama's doing that's less socialist than his predecessor. Why is that a bad thing?

As for stripping American youth of their dreams, the Bush Vision of Space Exploration was downsizing NASA, reducing the number of flights and the size of the astronaut corps. How is that inspirational? The private sector will enable hundreds, followed by thousands, and then tens of thousands of people to fly in space. Isn't that a goal worth supporting?

BackwardsBoy said...

Yours is a well reasoned response, the kind I was hoping for when I started this blog. Thank you.

Personally, I'd like to see an "all of the above" approach to our space program: a strong private sector, perhaps in space tourism, possibly a space hotel, coupled with a more far-reaching goals of a trip to Mars, something that only our government can fund.