Site Network: Debate This, Ole Miss. | the j-department | | mblog | mcast | the university of mississippi

Good evening. As this will likely be one of this group's last blogs, I would like to talk about a subject that has been near to my heart for most of my exploration.

"What's so important about space exploration?" you might ask. How does this relate to the election and president-elect Obama? These are questions worth asking and I hope you will find the answers to these and other questions within this short post.

To begin, America is quickly falling behind the world in the area of spaceflight...especially manned spaceflight. For example, China's space program has recently celebrated the country's first space-walk. India has successfully put a probe into orbit around the moon. Other countries across Asia and Europe are working hard to further their own space ambitions and China will attempt to send a man to the moon in less than two decades.

Add to this the problems faced by NASA and the new Constellation program, which intends to send a man to the moon by 2020.We recently lost the lives of 7 brave heroes during the space shuttle Columbia disaster, which was a completely preventable disaster. In addition, our remaining shuttle fleet is aging and is scheduled for retirement in the coming years. The proposed shuttle replacement rockets, known as ARES I and ARES V, have been plagued by design problems and underfunding. In addition, NASA has been criticized heavily for areas of mismanagement and NASA Administrator Mike Griffin will likely be replaced after Obama takes office in January. Due to a combination of these and other factors, we will likely see a five year gap between the final shuttle flight and the first real flights of the ARES system. During this time, the U.S. will have to rely on Russian rockets to get astronauts, equipment, and supplies to and from the International Space Station. Due to the heightened tensions between our two countries, this reliance could spell doom for our future visions in space.

As you can see, the once dominant lead our country enjoyed in space technology is currently evaporating. Before the election, I took a long look at the two candidates in order to see how they would approach future expansion of NASA funding and human spaceflight. Early on, Obama advocated making cuts to NASA funding in order to promote other areas of government. He didn't seem to mind if America lost its lead in space and this greatly terrified me. However, during one trip to the "space coast" of Florida, he reversed course and proposed greater NASA funding in order to close the previously mentioned gap. Was this reversal the sign of a true policy shift? Or was it a political attempt to win over voters in Florida before the election? I do not know. This uncertainty causes me to be greatly concerned about Obama's administration and the future of NASA. It pains me to think about a future where America takes a backseat as countries like China explore the moon and beyond.

Maybe I am a bit idealistic about the final frontier of human exploration. I believe those who work in this area show the best traits that humans have to offer. Intelligence, bravery, sacrifice, and a love for knowledge are all traits that I see in those who ride a rocket into earth orbit and beyond. Also, the engineers and scientists who work on unmanned missions, like the Voyager Interstellar Mission, New Horizons, and others, shed new light onto what we know about the universe and human kind's place among the stars. I believe exploration of the moon, mars, and outer solar system will tap into the core foundations that make us all human. I would hate to see our country grow stagnant while the rest of the world goes where no others have gone before.

In conclusion, it has been a pleasure to be around everyone this semester. The blogs have been fun and it's been an honor to participate in the debate. I also hope that anyone reading this will understand the importance I place on America's space program. In the coming months and years, contact your congressmen to show your support for future growth and expansion of NASA. I hope President Obama will understand the importance I place on space and I hope he will make good on his promise to see America lead the world in the coming years and decades.


Post a Comment