The government has recently announced its plan to give drivers money for cashing in their old, unwanted clunkers of cars for a government rebate check of almost $4500 if you qualify. Well, if the government can hand out money to private citizens to get a new car, why can’t the government give one of its own divisions money to help improve itself? The National Aeronautics and Space Administration back during the Apollo days composed of almost 4% of your taxes! During todays economy, NASA gets less than 1% of your tax dollars. So, should NASA get a government check to keep it going? What is NASA’s next step?
Just recently, it was announced that NASA’s division of NEO, or Near Earth Object, trackers do not have enough money to track all of the asteroids that have a posibility of making an encounter with the Earth too close for comfort. This lack of money causes even greater concerns with manned spaceflight missions. If STS-128 and Shuttle Discovery need to be rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building for further External Tank inspections, the launch could be pushed to October, which is the same month where another 900 employees who work on the shuttle program will be laid off. Should we be concerned about this? The obvious and correct answer is “heck yes we should”. Our president knows this and agrees with it, and is finally taking action.
President Barack Obama proposed a committee to examine all of the possible places the manned space program could go, and to come back to him with their decision. This committee became the Augustine Commission, lead by Norman Augustine along with many other large members of the space community, such as Dr. Sally Ride, also the first US woman in space who flew on STS-7. It was stated that each of these meetings must be done in public with the exception of minor factors, and in agreeing with that requirement, traveled to different places in the US holding public meetings regarding whether to remain in Low Earth Orbit, the fate of the ISS, and the benefits of going to the moon or to mars along with many other topics. It was also important that they heard the community, as they ended each session with the public’s comments.
Now, the real question remains…what will the committee’s conclusion be, and will the President along with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden follow through with their recommendations? The best thing for now is that President Obama realizes that space exploration is important, along with peaking interest in Americans by giving them money for their old cars. Now, if only Obama could combine the two, and get public interest in space, while giving good old NASA its own rebate check to follow through on the Augustine Committee’s recommendation, whatever it may be.