Redefining America (And Space Policy)

Larry Greenfield writes that those who prefer tyranny are winning. Unfortunately, like many conservatives, he doesn’t understand what’s going on with space policy:

American innovation both promoted and benefited from the space race. Today, Mr. Obama has lowered his sights, cut NASA spending, and opposed lunar exploration and continued human spaceflight.

This is simply untrue. The administration hasn’t cut NASA spending — the Congress has, on a bi-partisan basis. And while the administration did shut down the disastrous Constellation program whose stated purpose was to get us back to the moon, it had no real prospects of doing so. They have not “opposed continued human spaceflight.” They have repeatedly requested funding increases for commercial crew, the only NASA program with any chance of getting Americans to orbit on American rockets in this decade, and Congress has repeatedly cut the funding for it. One can argue about how effective the administration’s plans will be, but to say that they oppose human spaceflight is simply false as a matter of objective fact. In fact, in its actions of wasting billions on an underfunded, unneeded new rocket, and starving of funds the programs actually needed to get humans beyond earth orbit, one could say that it is Congress, including many of the Republicans within it, that is objectively opposing continued human spaceflight.

11 thoughts on “Redefining America (And Space Policy)”

  1. Didn’t Obama, not Congress, cancel follow up mission to Curiosity and throw ESA under the bus? And now ESA partnered with Russia for that mission.

    And Obama shares some blame for the sequestration cuts.

    Obama has supported the continuation of our manned space program but in many way he has lowered our sights. Maybe it doesn’t matter because he will be long gone before we go to the Moon, Mars, or a NEO but at the same time the idea that we will go everywhere and anywhere is unfocussed.

    I would have more respect for Obama and his supporters, if he said that we should be focusing on enabling technologies and a decision on where to use them will come from later presidents but instead we just get BS.

    1. I’m not defending Obama space policy in general, though it’s been better than almost any of his other policies (a low bar). I just get tired of people who continually mischaracterize it for no other apparent reason than ignorance and dislike of Obama.

      1. I find it hard to credit someone much for getting it right by simply not caring enough to get in the way and mess it up.

        1. Again, I’m not defending the policy so much as to simply point out that it’s being mischaracterized. The administration has not “opposed continued human spaceflight.”

      2. Fair enough, and I agree with you that Obama has done some good things. It is a very exciting time right now and it is to bad more people don’t know about what is going on with commercial cargo and crew or even with Curiosity. And one of the best parts is that some of these companies will be able to sell their products to customers other than NASA.

        Our international partnerships and the ISS are still going strong even with the cuts to some specific programs.

    2. Wodun,

      He pulled the plugged on a Mars sample return with ESA that had every appearance of turning into a boondoggle. But that doesn’t show he is against Mars science as many Mars researchers have claimed, as the Mars research community has been invited to propose more practical and less expensive alternatives. Also it never hurts to remind the space science community once in a while its needs to be thinking about who is paying for their science projects so they keep them reasonable.

  2. Gentlemen, you are correct that Congress has played a role, but I suggest Obama’s failed economic policies have caused explosive debt and limited our resources. Further, Obama’s priorities have been unfriendly to the space frontier — his famous directive to NASA to spend time on making Muslims feel good, etc. Here is another piece by the columnist Greenfield which reminds the objections by our Astronauts and proves his point:

    1. Don,

      Actually the failure dates to President Bush, who doubled the national debt on his watch when it was on track to be paid off entirely at the end of it.

      President Bush also oversaw the greatest economic collapse since the Depression. And don’t forget it was his administration that killed the Shuttle and as a result created the gap in American human space launch.

  3. Actually this looks like a great move by President Obama. Addresses both the planetary defense issue while moving utilization of space resources forward while giving a sensible destination for Orion (or Dragon) at the same time.

    Apr 5, 2013, 5:33pm EDT
    Obama to push for asteroid exploration by 2021: Nelson

    [[[Nelson said the president’s budget, expected to be released next week, will launch a program aimed at catching an asteroid with a robotic spacecraft and towing it back toward Earth, where it would then be placed in a orbit around the moon.

    NASA astronauts aboard the Orion capsule would land on the asteroid for mining activities or research into how to deflect an asteroid from striking Earth.]]]

    Great plan! Only rather than lunar orbit I would propose it be placed in the EM L5 for sentimental reasons…

    1. Why put the asteroid in lunar orbit or L5 when they could bring it down to LEO and then pay the Russians to send a Soyuz to explore it, or is that plan B?

      1. Two reasons I could think of immediately are the problems with space debris in LEO and the additional Delta Vee needed to lower it safely into a deep gravity well like Earth’s.

        Not to mention the screams from the uninformed that NASA may crash it into Earth 🙂

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