NASA doesn’t have nearly enough money to meet its goal of putting astronauts back on the moon by 2020 — and it might be the wrong place to go, anyway. That’s one of the harsh messages emerging from a sweeping review of NASA’s human space flight program.
The Human Space Flight Plans Committee, appointed by President Barack Obama and headed by retired aerospace executive Norman Augustine, has been trying to stitch together some kind of plausible strategy for America’s manned space program. The panel has struggled to find options that stay under the current budget and include missions worthy of the cost and effort.
It’s interesting to note that the 40th anniversary of the first Moon landing and Woodstock are within a month of each other. They reflect the two threads of the 1960’s: the advance of technology and science on the one hand, and the “naturalistic/Luddite” reaction to it on the other. As I noted last month, at time time many people thought we should scrap the moon program and concentrate on problems here, the entitlement waste and technological spinoffs of the space program notwithstanding.
But the Luddites have the upper hand these days, even with someone at the helm who was still a child during Woodstock. There’s no talk of expanding NASA’s budget. As one commenter to the article noted, we can drop $3 billion in “Cash for Clunkers” but can’t increase funding for the space program. And that doesn’t consider the other entitlements whose improvements of productivity are dubious. (We can’t even get our transportation system past a near failing grade from ASCE!)
What’s galling is that these ninny New Atheists are so happy the “fundies” are out of power they can’t see the real quality of what has replaced them. While “science as a religion” advances, real science and technology take a back seat.
But not to worry: if we don’t do it, someone else will.