As we all know, President Obama released his fiscal year 2011 budget, much to our dismay. In all honesty, there are plenty of advantages and disadvantages to the budget, but most of us are still not happy. I for one, being an educator and a student, am really not happy at the path that is being taken. To put it simply, the United States of America has lost their lead in space.
The big achievement and inspiration for our space program in the 1960s and 1970s was the success of the Apollo program and achieving President John F. Kennedy’s goal. I wish Obama would have the same inspiration and dedication to our space program as Kennedy did before. If the public isn’t interested to start with, how can you expect a program to survive?
NASA’s constellation program was to hopefully be that driving force that would give Americans the inspiration that Kennedy did in the 1960s. Now, the program is cancelled. So, what is going to be our new driving force? Getting rid of your only manned space program was not the smartest idea I’ve ever seen. Plus, there are a few other negatives to that:
- You have already invested over $9 billion dollars in the program since 2004 when President George W Bush made his announcement regarding the end of the shuttle program and the new goal to go back to the moon or onto mars, which became NASA’s platform from then on
- You are now getting rid of nearly 20,000 jobs of people working on this program, not including those who had worked on the space shuttle before its announced retirement. If the big concern was creating jobs, then why did you just destroy so many?
- Upon eliminating another program for NASA, you’re also eliminating the possibility of learning new things and gaining new spinoffs that could develop from this program. If people only realized their prescious cell phones, solar panels, light-weight metal alloys, digital wrist watches, pace maker, artificial knees and hips, satellite radio, etc. came from these programs, maybe they’d give it a second thought.
Now you can see from above why I’m not to thrilled about this plan. What is our new way of supposedly creating new jobs? According to our president and NASA administrator Charlie Bolden, making space privatized opens up more new jobs. Does it open up some? Yes indeed, and any job available in this day and age is a good job, but it’s still fewer jobs than before. Plus, NASA’s manned space program will basically cease to exist onboard our own rockets. From now on, we just provide the men and the training for the private companies and little tips and tricks on what to do.
There are certainly a few positive aspects to this proposed budget which I am grateful for (See, this post isn’t all negative). First, I am very glad at their increase in their funds for NASA’s education program. Anything is helpful, and if we can inspire our newest generation to think about space and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), then we may just yet be able to save our space program in the future.
I am also grateful for their announcements of keeping funding for unmanned missions such as continuing Hubble as well as more Mars spacecraft. It’s great and I can’t wait to see what they bring back, but that vehicle landing on Mars should, in my opinion, be soon containing humans, but with no more constellation, if it happens, it won’t be NASA. Plus, the ISS will be extended to 2020. We’ll be relying on a Russian Soyuz and private craft, but the science that the station was intended for can finally be the focal point of its existence.
Where NASA will go next has also yet to be announced. It seems that their focus is only on unmanned exploration. There are still the options laid out by the Augustine Commission, such as the Flexible Path, which most people thought was being implemented as soon as the mention of the cancellation of Constellation arose. That has yet to be announced, and if it does ever get announced, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be under this President and this administration.
Overall, I must say to put it simply in a conclusion, cancelling our manned spaceflight program is the equivalent of taking the brightest brains in the United States, all of the brilliant inventors, and every child that’s ever dreamed of being an astronaut, and completely getting rid of them. I feel this isn’t the right move for the future. Any lead that the United States had in space just burned up on re-entry.