Humans have been interested in space ever since we came into existence. Yet with all this interest we fail to make ends meet as a space exploring species. Ever since the Apollo missions of the space race with the Soviet Union NASA (or National Aeronautics and Space Administration, a government run agency)funding has been reduced dramatically. This has been largely due to the fact that people think the moon was the last stop. This is not the case. George Bush planned to return to the moon by 2020 and land a human on Mars and return him safely by 2050. These plans have come under recent stress. On September 9th, 2009, The Augustine Panel, the panel that was set up a few months earlier to advise the president of funding to NASA, came to a conclusion. That NASA needs $3 billion more added on to their $18 billion budget. This may seem like a lot of money to a common person, but in reality it is very small. Eighteen billion dollars is less than 1% of the government's budget.
How will NASA get this money? There are many plans out there to get NASA this extra $3 billion so they can continue to proceed from the moon to Mars. The Augustine Panel came up with a few, but they aren't very good in my opinion. One of the options says to deorbit the International Space Station in 2016 and use the money put into that to get to the moon. The panel warned that this was a last resort option though. Another plan involves scrapping the planned rocket to take men to the moon and Mars and use commercial rockets instead. This way the government doesn't pay for the rockets directly.
Whatever course of action NASA takes I will support. I believe exploring space is one of the most important things we can do as a species. The technology to get up there and live up there for extended periods also benefits people on Earth. One of the Apollo NASA administrators said, "Comparing technology today and what we had back then is shocking. We essentially went to the moon on the computing power of one laptop and one digital pocket watch. Why can't we get to Mars now?" I think he makes a very good point. NASA has gone very far with what money they have; I think they deserve a little bit more money.
-Marmaduke Maximillian Winchester III
1.) Brooks, Jeff. "The Space Review: Putting NASA’s budget in perspective." The Space Review: essays and commentary about the final frontier. 2 July 2007. Web. 17 Sept. 2009. <http://www.thespacereview.com/article/898/1>.
2.) "Cash needed to fuel return to moon." Omaha World-Herald 9 Sept. 2009, Main News sec.: 3A. Print.
3.) Cornish, Neil J. "Lagrange Points." Department of Physics, Montana State University. 21 May 1999. Web. 17 Sept. 2009. <http://www.physics.montana.edu/faculty/cornish/lagrange.html>.
4.) Dunbar, Brian. "NASA - What Does NASA Do?" NASA - Home. 9 Mar. 2008. Web. 17 Sept. 2009. <http://www.nasa.gov/about/highlights/what_does_nasa_do.html>.5.) Powell, Stewart M. "NASA's mission for billions more may be an uphill battle | National | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle." Houston news, entertainment, search and shopping | chron.com - Houston Chronicle. 13 Sept. 2009. Web. 17 Sept. 2009. <http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nation/6615751.html>.
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