Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Obama Cancels Visits To Moon

It appears that NASA is on the list for some cutbacks, including the moon program that was initiated by President George W. Bush back in 2004, and with the program, the Ares rocket and the Orion crew capsule, as well as over 7,000 jobs (from the cancellation of the Constellation program and the discontinuing Shuttle program) which may cause a ripple effect across the east coast. While Obama wishes to increase NASA's budget by to about $20 billion a year over the next five years, it seems that NASA will experience a tremendous shake up to make room for private space enterprises.

I personally disagree with the cancellation of the Constellation program, and believe that it was one of the brightest spots on Bush's presidency, if not the brightest. I believe support for the International Space Program is essential but lacks some benefits of a permanent moon base and that investing in the moon will set America back in the next generation of space exploration and research. Congressman Artur Davis commented on the recent decision:
"A manned space flight program is a vital component of America's scientific future. NASA's decision to scrap the Constellation program is a major error that Congress needs to correct. I will work with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to push the Administration to reverse course; if our voices are not heard, the advocates of Constellation will be waiting on the floor of the House and the Senate. It also goes without saying that the 2200 job loss from shutting down Constellation is an unacceptable blow to North Alabama's economy."
While other countries, such as China, India, and Russia, invest and develop there space programs, it seems as America is moving ahead more cautiously, having vague plans for the future that may or may not yield positive results. Where is that "yes we can" attitude from the presidential campaign?

Christopher Dawson, over at ZDNet, says it best:
I absolutely understand why budgets have been re-prioritized and I applaud efforts to address climate issues and explore public-private partnerships for “capsules and rockets that can be used as space taxis to take astronauts on fixed-price contracts to and from the International Space Station.” However, this seems like a lost opportunity to engage the next generation of scientists in ways that the first space race did quite admirably.


  1. Kevin, my feelings on this are mixed. Since humankind seems dead set on destroying this planet, finding a replacement has to be a high priority. However, the Constellation project is way behind schedule and way over budget. Furthermore, in their plans to return to the moon, they actually neglected to design a lunar lander. Since the moon, and especially the asteroid belt, are a treasure trove of natural resources, perhaps there is sufficient incentive for business to invest private funds for this purpose, especially if government provides generous incentives and tax benefits.

  2. I am mixed as well, but I wish there was more dialogue involving this matter. I personally believe that NASA does not get enough funding, but at the same time, I notice extravagant waste associated with constant delays, etc.

    I believe the benefits that can be made through space exploration should not be given the axe because of budget concerns. I commend Obama for a desire to open private enterprise to space, but I am worried that without state sponsored research, science will fall behind, with research shifting to a more popular focus - what would the average American be interested in reading about more, solar flares and chemical composition of distant stars or what celebrity will be flying up to space next?

    It is like reality television. Immensely popular but lacking of substance that scripted shows can give. I am afraid of superficial space programs and a reversal of the space race...


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