Ok, so I’m taking my turn and reading the Augustine Commission’s Summary
Report on HSF plans. I got through the first page and was already thinking to
myself, “I have words to say.” So… Maybe this gap might not be such the bad thing
that it’s being made out to be. Perhaps it would be a good time to regroup, and
get the world together in support of our lofty ambitions for the space program.
It’s unanimous among all space enthusiasts that the goal is to push the
envelope beyond LEO, return to the Moon, then tackle Mars. But, when I discuss
these completely achievable plans with others I get doubtful stares—“Mars?” I
wonder about the proportion of people that have no clue that there are people
conducting science in space this very
moment. It is disturbing that shuttle launches, at the very least, are not even
adequately covered! So I think of how realistic it would be to expect the
support of the federal government, the representative of the people of the
country, and the world, and their needs and desires (in theory anyways). Maybe
this is too much of a top-down approach.
    I wish I had some specific suggestions, at the moment, as to where to begin, but I’m just thinking that we should start over at the bottom. We know what we want, but maybe the general public needs to see
some real practicality in space program ambitions, with the state of the
world’s economy as it is. Without this, the plans will never fly. 
    Jumping around a little, science education needs a serious overhaul.
Let’s conquer the world’s problems through promoting science, and thus the space
program. Since there isn’t enough to blast off to Mars right now, let’s dump
lots of money into teaching. While continuing space activity as much as
possible, maybe through unmanned exploration, how can we integrate the public
more in the meantime? No progression can ever be achieved if we don’t continue to explore and
discover the uncharted. I don’t think people consider this regularly. The
world is changing so fast and this is necessary! Children are not being taught
to inquire, create, and to dream big. Before my writing starts to get really fluffy, I’m going to get back to
reading the Augustine report. Be back in a minute…  
    As far as keeping the space program alive, let’s use the commercial
avenue to get people pumped on space. Is that not what drives this country?
Government grants, to promote development of new technology and advances, have
worked before and it can work again! And for the record, I think the ISS should be
kept alive and well for as long as possible. It would be a great tourist stop
if we could work with other countries to get more people into space. To me, it
seems like international partnerships are the way to keep the program going. Japan is on the scene now and I’m sure they won’t be the last ones. I vote them in. China is getting the Amazon I hear, and so they also
want the moon, for fuel. Let’s see what they find, or better yet, let’s work with them.
Ready… Go!
    Oh… what is my point? Ah, long, rambling story short: Mars isn’t going anywhere any
time soon. Let’s take this time and turn it into something good. Let’s grow
lots of great scientists and engineers, and work on a real, robust plan. First
order of business: get some tangible problems for the general public to fester
on, to which space is the only logical solution! Technologically, we may have
the means, but what exactly is the end? I’m ready for comments or
suggestions.