Jan 27 2010
One of the things the federal government does well is pushing the envelope and scientific exploration. Yes, the rubes surrounding global warming are a pathetic lot, but they are the exception to the rule. The internet by which I am allowed to post my gems of wisdom (or incoherent ramblings – pick your poison) is a prime example of technology offshoots from the military and space industrial complex. The Hubble Space Telescope explores the universe bringing us stunning images and knowledge based on technology that is derived from our intelligence efforts. The world wide communications we take for granted to instantly learn and react to news around the globe is an offshoot of military programs. The globe is ringed with Earth observing satellites monitoring our weather and the health of our home planet. I could go on and on reviewing how federal programs have benefited mankind in indirect ways in medicine, learning, corporate efficiencies, etc.
So when I read this I was stunned at the short sighted ‘thinking’ that went into it:
When the White House releases his budget proposal Monday, there will be no money for the Constellation program that was supposed to return humans to the moon by 2020. The troubled and expensive Ares I rocket that was to replace the space shuttle to ferry humans to space will be gone, along with money for its bigger brother, the Ares V cargo rocket that was to launch the fuel and supplies needed to take humans back to the moon.
There will be no lunar landers, no moon bases, no Constellation program at all.
In their place, according to White House insiders, agency officials, industry executives and congressional sources familiar with Obama’s long-awaited plans for the space agency, NASA will look at developing a new “heavy-lift” rocket that one day will take humans and robots to explore beyond low Earth orbit. But that day will be years â€” possibly even a decade or more â€” away.
In the meantime, the White House will direct NASA to concentrate on Earth-science projects â€” principally, researching and monitoring climate change â€” and on a new technology research and development program that will one day make human exploration of asteroids and the inner solar system possible.
Worldwide there are dozens of satellites monitoring the Earth – all being ignored by the global warming alarmists who dismiss their data since it runs counter to the liberal mythology and religion that is man made, CO2 driven global warming. We don’t need more of them, we need to recognize their superior capabilities and the results they produce.
Where ever this brain fart came from, it is a job killer. There are thousands of people working Constellation all across this country. They are developing new ideas, new solutions and potentially new products to stimulate our economy and enhance our competitive position in the world. Unlike DoD programs where security restrictions delay the migration of state-of-the-art concepts from moving into the private sector, NASA’s products (being unclassified to a great extent) move more freely into the general civilian market place.
These jobs will be lost, and lost in states that do not support Earth Observing research. That means Texas (home of manned space flight), Ohio, Alabama and California (home of deep space missions). Â I am fortunate in that I work at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, home to Earth Science exploration. We will benefit greatly, but at too large a cost.
Mankind needs a common goal to rally around. Exploring our solar system, and some day the wider universe, is a non-partisan challenge which excites and drives a lot of people in common interest. Even through the most tumultuous periods with Russia, US and Soviet (now Russian) space endeavors were the shining example where politics was thrown aside (that and Rock & Roll). To this day we partner with nations around the globe on space exploration.
And President Obama wants to end this high tech, common good effort. And for what? The entire NASA budget is less than the nation spends on pizza annually. The DoD blasts through the equivalent funding in 3-4 weeks as NASA spends all year (which means this week, since New Years Day, Â the DoD just spent what NASA will spend the rest of the year).
The Administration spent $300 billion on supposedly shovel ready jobs in its stimulus bill debacle, primarily on paving roads, building bike paths and other marginal efforts. Why kill off these high tech jobs?
This decision is just unfathomable. Why throw all these top notch engineers onto the unemployment lines, or onto DoD programs? Â What is the upside?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Par for the course for this young and inexperienced administration.