Reconciling dreams of space exploration with realities of limited earth resources is a challenge. I grew up looking to the stars and early on decided that going to the stars was necessary due to our sun's limited life span as well as limitations of our earth unless we humans revert to living like we did 2 million years ago, meaning there could be only half a million humans at most, on earth.
Barring that and assuming we will be a technological society, it is necessary for us to cease depending on one planet's resources and go foraging elsewhere for mineral and organic wealth.
The space program flounders because few officials talk about this. The need to keep everyone happy at home conflicts with the need to rouse everyone into joint effort to reach out to the stars. This flaccid policy is dooming our space program. The earlier motivation was to simply beat the commies and plant flags merrily about. Once that ended, most public interest in space collapsed.
When Bush capriciously and suddenly announced our new space policy, one would have expected a little more energy and focus. The fact that this didn't happen doesn't surprise Bush watchers on the left. From the NYT:
Three weeks before the Discovery is to return the nation's space shuttle fleet to orbit, two influential experts say the Bush administration's plans for human space exploration are doomed to failure without a major infusion of money and fundamental changes in space policy.Of course, these experts worked under Democrats so no one in DC will listen to them. Their faith in the new director is misplaced. From what I have posted here, readers know Griffin is a flag waving nationalist who thinks this is the Cold War again and he dreams of getting us all hot to beat the Chinese to the moon, this time, using money raised at lemonade stands, I suppose.
"Current U.S. space policy presents a paradoxical picture of high ambition and diminishing commitment," the experts state in a paper being released today by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, Mass.
The paper was written by George Abbey, director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston from 1995 to 2001, and Dr. Neal Lane, the White House science adviser under President Bill Clinton from 1998 to 2001.
It comes from a series of workshops with space companies and international agencies and from experts meeting at the academy and at Rice University in Houston, where both authors of the paper now work as senior fellows of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.
The authors say they are hopeful about NASA's new administrator, Michael D. Griffin, who has technical expertise and has begun to change a management culture widely blamed for the loss of the shuttle Columbia two years ago. But they wrote that "current space policy is ill defined and its future path is uncertain."
Mr. Abbey and Dr. Lane identify what they say are four failures of national policy that hinder future success in space:You can't have plans when there are no goals. Like our wars today, if the goals are fake and the plans are in conflict with the stated goals you get either stalemate or worse, defeat. This is why fighting for fake reasons doesn't work if real fighting happens. Exploring space for no reason means no exploration in the end.
¶Inadequate planning for NASA's future.
¶Erosion of international cooperation in space.
¶Congressional restrictions on the export of space technology that have choked the flow of sales to other nations and make it difficult to share information with foreign partners.
¶A projected shortfall in the future United States science and engineering work force, made worse by post-Sept. 11 restrictions on visas for foreign students.
The GOP wants to erode international cooperation on all levels. This quixiotic quest is done for purely cynical reasons since the GOP is owned by foreign interests. They feel that if they play this game, pretending to hate foreigners, they can get away with selling Americans down the river into slavery to foreigners. This is what our mountain of debt is all about. Paying for a run to the moon or Mars, both utterly useless right now, is all about killing our space program so the remains will be sold to the people who are out buying American corporations and companies (see earlier news today here!). Why do they want this?
Aside from being traitors, let us not forget where most of the GOP leaders hail from: the place that hates the Union, hates the American flag, hates the Constitution so much they threw it literally away 150 years ago. They want to destroy us! Duh! Surprised? One shouldn't be.
The last point: lack of foreign students. Well, shiver me timbers, who are they? Take a few wild guesses! They come from a big country that churns out scientists and engineers like crazy unlike America which has pretty much given up in defeat and is now clearing the field, hoping to be the umpires and water boys for the new scientific team. If we think we will "manage" this new team we are nuts.
They happen to be proud and capable and willing to be the leaders. Eh? Why not?
So again, why has America given up on our space program? Or everything else, for that matter? Why are we proud to be a fake number one when we can't even fight a small war against barely armed civilians?
Oh, and the poor private solar sail?
Lost in space.