At a time when everybody is talking about the need for high tech government investments to boost the economy it’s looking like congress is bleeding NASA funding dry:
“The House slashed NASA’s manned space exploration $4 billion budget by 16 percent for 2010, as the White House will wait patiently to hear more of NASA’s plans once the shuttle fleet is retired. The $670 million cut will leave just $3.21 billion, which is less than what the U.S. space agency is working with already.“
Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-West Virginia) is claiming is that this is just a “time out” until NASA reassures lawmakers and the White House of its plans to head back to the moon by 2020. But to be very frank if congress is serious about getting NASA back to the moon what they should be doing is giving them the proper budget (i.e. aggressively expanding it) rather than putting it on hold to allow the incoming leadership to develop a decent plan.
Frankly the last time things looked this bad for the United States was in 1961 when the Russians beat us at putting the first man into space. The shuttle which is our core vehicle for getting into orbit is well past its end-of-life and frankly every mission is just waiting to become the next disaster. The ISS (International Space Station) is also reaching old age as well, which by the way hasn’t stopped the Russians for making plans on how to detach their part of the station for future use. And coming up from behind is China which has already had several successful missions and is well on track to beat us back to the moon.
And you know what’s sad about all of this? We’ve already been to the moon! What America should be doing is breaking ground by planning a Mars mission. And yet what’s amazing is just how much NASA has done all of these years without funding — just think at how much Hubble has done to help us discover dozens of planets outside of this solar system. These folks deserve our support as Americans — it’s time to stop seeing NASA as just a local job program for a few locations like Florida, Alabama and Texas and instead see it as something not just in the national interest but something that benefits all of humanity.
So I’m asking all of you to step up to plate and write a letter to your congressman (or congresswoman as the case may be) and ask them to aggressively increase funding for NASA. If we don’t do it now we’ll just have to do it later when we’re watching China land on the moon or when the Russians have the only functional space station in orbit.