The politics of space

21 06 2008

So my bullshit detector has been going off at an alarming frequency lately, which leads me to believe that another election must be near.  Our first idiot this season is Barack Obama (we’ll get to McCain some other time), who has proposed the most illogical, backwards, and idiotic space policy that I’ve ever seen from a democrat.   Bush’s isn’t any better, with his blind push to the moon, so that we can go there and then maybe Mars, and follow that up with another fifty years of absolutely nothing.  But at least his plan may yield some useful knowledge about space exploration.

But back to Barack Obama, his policy is simple:  divert the budget of the manned space program of NASA into the black hole that is the education budget, and focus on the unmanned missions.  Why?  According to him, NASA doesn’t inspire as it used to, and so its funds would be better spent on educating the young and reaching out to them in the classroom.  Because we all know that a teacher droning about space is more inspiring than a moon landing.  The moron doesn’t realize (or admit) that the reason NASA doesn’t inspire as it used to is because idiots like him have already stripped the manned space program dry.  If you allowed NASA to actually do something with the space shuttle instead of using it as a ferry to fix up the rickety old barge known as the International Space Station, you might actually inspire some kids.  But that would be too logical, and its NASA’s fault that no man has left the orbit of this planet since the Apollo missions ended in the early seventies.

That’s almost forty years, an entire generation has reached middle age without being inspired by the space program because morons like Obama expect kids to become interested in math and science while slashing the very source of that inspiration.  A rational space policy, whether your goal is simply advancement of humanity, or to motivate the next generation of kids, would be to place the manned space program at the center of the space policy, instead of making it scrounge money from the fringes.  For the first time in decades, when the Shuttle system retires, we’re about to enter an era when the United States lacks the capacity to send humans into space.  That, more than anything else going on in our country today, depresses the hell out of me.

You really want to ecourage the kids?  Put forth a bold new plan and give NASA the resources to make headlines by putting people on Mars, the astreoid belt, and further out.  And not the one off missions that are the staple of politicians – but a well thought out, progressive expansion out into space.  In the end, if true commercialization of space is achieved, it will have to be on the backs of governments who can pour the initial investment into it.  And unlike education, it’s not a black hole, as the economic and social benefits to true expansion into space are absolutely incalculable.  That revolution would make the beginning of the electronic age look like a minor blip.