Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Bush’s True Vision for America in Outer Space

In the last week, the media has been reporting that President Bush is considering a vision for this country’s exploration of space. Some reports hinted that Bush’s approach might rival John F. Kennedy’s dramatic call for America to be first on the moon. Maybe we will return to the moon. Maybe he would call for us to explore Mars.

Any or all of that would be great. America can use something to be excited about, and the manned space program could supply that. But, now, stand back and get ready for the cold water. This is nothing but pre-election rhetoric. It’s just a desperate attempt to fake out the American voter, i.e., to once again appear to be going one way while really heading another.

NASA isn’t going anywhere but earth orbit next year or in the immediate future without a fairly dramatic increase in its budget. If you’ve seen the budget appropriation for this year, then you know that NASA got enough money to get flying again but little else. Published budget appropriations for the next few years show very little growth.

With an election coming, Democrats are jumping all over the huge budget deficit Bush has run up. In such a dismal financial climate, a new NASA initiative to return to the moon or push outward to Mars with manned spacecraft is an impossibility.

Bush just spent $87 billion of taxpayer money in Iraq for something that looks more and more like it was $87 billion spent to impress Dad and destabilize the Middle East. If he had plowed even one sixth of that money into the NASA budget, he would have doubled the funds the agency has to work with. Going back to the moon, then, would be a real possibility; and if we kept it up for ten years, Mars would be our next stop.