In regards to the manned space program

On May 5th, 1961, Alan B. Shepard Jr. stepped into a tin can at the top of a Redstone ballistic missile. After 15 minutes, 28 seconds, and 303 statute miles, Alan Shepard was officially the first American in space.

And so began an incredible journey of daring, danger, steel nerves, and engineering marvel that would be America’s manned space program. 33 years later, after many triumphs and a handful of tragedies, the future was looking bright for America’s pride, as in January of 2004 President Bush announced that the shuttle would be phased out in favor of a new program, the Constellation program, which would see America return to the moon and then turn its ambition to putting Americans on the surface of another planet.

Things continued to look good for the Space Program with the election of Barack Obama. After all, on the campaign trail, he had vowed in no uncertain terms to support the manned space program, including returning to the moon and sending men to Mars. On August 16th, 2008, he released a 7 page space program policy, which read: “Barack Obama … endorses the goal of sending human missions to the Moon by 2020, as a precursor in an orderly progression to missions to more distant destinations, including Mars.” The future looked bright indeed.

In February of 2010, President Obama introduced a National Budget that included no funding for the Constellation program.

In February of 2011, Space Shuttle Endeavor will fly for the last time. After that mission, the three remaining orbiters, Endeavor, Discovery, and Atlantis (Challenger and Columbia were lost in tragedies, Enterprise was never a fully rated spaceframe) will be decommissioned and sent to museums. America will no longer have the capability to put men in space.

Think about that for a minute. Yes, there will still be a manned space program.. for now. American Astronauts will still go to the International Space Station… from the Russian Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. On Russian rockets. As paying passengers. For every one dollar the United States spends on the space program (or at least did before President Obama slashed the budget to include no manned flight,) it spends 98 dollars on social programs. Thats right, if the Federal Government could tighten the budget on social programming by ONE PERCENT, we could double the budget of the space program. Instead the space program is gutted to pay for more social programs. Its ok, I’m sure whole generations of kids will be inspired to work harder at math and science when they see the great heros of welfare, or hear daring stories of Obamacare.

This video is great except that it assumes that there will be a future generation of manned spaceflight. I’m sure there will be, if you live in China.

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11 2010

3 Comments Add Yours ↓

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  1. vinnybove #

    I cannot say enough good things about this post. I know it’s a topic that you’re passionate about, but lots of people on the interwebs are passionate about things and then up posting blog entries that are amateurish, poorly-thought-out, one-sided and crass.

    You, sir, made an extremely convincing argument. While your interests were clear, you backed them up with facts and sound statements, and as a grammar nerd, I really appreciate the eloquently phraseology applied therein.

    Also, you managed to reach the reader on an emotional level and even sprinkle some of your trademark biting humor in there too.

    This was a professional-quality piece. I for one hope that it gets attention beyond the realm of this humble blog, and that in the future we see more of your insightful writing…you know, to go along with the hilarious angry rants. <:)

  2. vinnybove #

    And of course I made a typo while writing about eloquence. Ironic.

  3. evil J #

    Let me add this:

    The space shuttle program costs– uh, costed– on the order of $5 billion a year (give or take depending on which year). Let’s put that in perspective.

    The TSA budget: $7 billion (them porno scanners ain’t cheap!)
    Last year’s GM bailout: $60 billion
    Amount the Fed just printed: $600 billion

    Put it this way: Last week, the Fed just printed and gave away enough money to fund the Shuttle for another 100 years.

    That said, can private industry do it better? Hells yeah. If Californians hadn’t fucked up their state so bad, I’d be working for SpaceX right now, who designed, built, and flew a rocket for the same price NASA spend on their Ares I tower. Musk said he wants to retire on Mars, and damn if he doesn’t have a good chance of doing just that.

    But should we cancel all government-funded human spaceflight before we have a private industry to fall back on? Hells no!

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