Monday, April 23, 2012

The Retirement of Discovery -Something to Celebrate -and to Mourn

Do you know who Charles Krauthammer is? He appears regularly on several FOX cable news programs (I enjoy his participation on the panel of Special Report). He also writes some excellent, intellectually thought provoking, columns for the Washington Post. He has a way of cutting through arguments and getting right to the heart of issues. Although I do not always agree with him, I always look forward to hearing (or reading) what he has to say. This week he wrote and article: Farewell, the New Frontier which I think is a must read. Here is a link to it, so you can read it in it's entirety: Farewell to the New Frontier

Let me just give you a small sampling, so you get the idea: 

"[talking about the Space Shuttle Discovery] The shuttle was being carried — its pallbearer, a 747 — because it cannot fly, nor will it ever again. It was being sent for interment. Above ground, to be sure. But just as surely embalmed as Lenin in Red Square. Is there a better symbol of willed American decline? The pity is not Discovery’s retirement — beautiful as it was, the shuttle proved too expensive and risky to operate — but that it died without a successor. The planned follow-on — the Constellation rocket-capsule program to take humans back into orbit and from there to the moon — was suddenly canceled in 2010. And with that, control of manned spaceflight was gratuitously ceded to Russia and China."

Charles goes on to make some very good points about how our abandonment of the space program actually makes very little sense during our struggle to get out of the recession. While it is very true that Federal spending must be curtailed, this is one program that provided the county with dividends in jobs, innovation and new technology -to say nothing of the importance of it's contributions to our national pride and our international prestige. 

President Obama cancelled our space program and he did it because he does not have the vision to see the benefits of it. He only saw that he needed to make a show of saving money and cutting costs. NASA was just too tempting a target. It was a way to cut spending without touching any of the entitlement programs, addressing health care costs or curtailing the reach of the Federal Government into our daily lives. The sad thing is that so many Republicans allowed it to happen without a word, let alone a fight. 

It is not too late. NASA is not dead and can easily be brought back to life to re-establish America as the leader in Space Exploration -and, at the same time, bring all those jobs and the benefits of all that innovation back to life with it. Let's hope the next occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Blvd has the vision to see that. 

Live Long and Prosper....

No comments: