NASA is set to cut funding from the Mars Rover program to the tune of four million ($4,000,000) dollars. If this happens, the Martian rover Spirit would be put into hibernation mode pending more budget allocation from NASA administrators. Never mind that NASA spent nearly a billion dollars to get Spirit and its companion rover Opportunity to Mars. A four million dollar shortfall out of a twenty million dollar budget spells the end for interplanetary exploration. Are you seriously telling me, a concerned taxpayer, that our federal government can’t find four million dollars somewhere to keep this project going? Are you effing kidding me?
Since the end of the Apollo missions to the moon, NASA has steadily lost its way. The subsequent NASA administrations have proven time and again that they are unworthy stewards of our future in space. Staying wedded to a shuttle program that is thirty years old, building a low-Earth orbit space station in the name of international cooperation, and turning our back on manned exploration of our solar system has completely eroded my confidence in the agency. As the Chinese, Japanese, Indians, and Iranians (for crying out loud) develop their own space programs, we’re basically driving a big school bus back and forth to a Dr. Pepper can in space. Sure, we might see some interesting science being practiced there, including gathering physiological data on long-term exposure to microgravity conditions, but is this really pushing the envelope? To me, this is Isabella telling Christopher Columbus: “Hey, Chris. That’s a nice island you found. You know what, though? We’re going to send a raft of monkeys over there and let them see what they find. If we run out of bananas, maybe we’ll just see if they can, you know, live off the land or hibernate or something. When we have more bananas, maybe we’ll send some over there…if they’re still alive.”
Where is the excitement that captured the imagination of the American public? Where is the sense of unknown? Where is the desire for new horizons? Where is the imagination of our youth and college students? Frankly, we as a country deserve to watch China divide the moon into luxury retirement condos. At this point, we can’t see far enough beyond our subprime mortgages and our apathy to care.