Beyond the Cusp

October 13, 2011

Obama and NASA Call to Hire New Astronauts

For reasons that escape this writer, President Obama has approved NASA to hire for a new class of astronauts. Since President Obama has taken the reigns over NASA, the Space Shuttle has been retired, something that actually made some sense. But the plans for a Moon base have been scrapped, definitive plans for a manned trip to Mars has been relegated to a mere phantom of a possibility, and the design and production of a new heavy-lift system has been relegated to the purview of private enterprise. The only part of the call for new astronauts to be trained by NASA is the date the classes are scheduled to begin, sometime in 2013. My bet is this class too will face cancellation should President Obama win reelection. Space does not appear to have much appeal or place in the President’s designs. President Obama, if pressed on the subject, would probably make the claim that in the current economic and fiscal atmosphere, he is saving the funds from NASA and applying them to more pressing requirements. I find such grandstanding to be both ridiculous and ignorant.

The first point that needs to be understood is all about appearances. I will bet that virtually every time any reporter, politician, expert, or any of those who believe that our space programs are simply a waste of funds, when speaking of the NASA budget use actual dollars, which has not been higher than $20 Billion in its history. Of course, when normal people hear a number like we can save billions of dollars that are currently being wasted in the NASA budget, this sounds great. But, let’s treat the NASA budget numbers as they treat those programs the politicians like and refer to the percentage of the budget consumed by NASA. I have asked people this question often as I think we invest too little on our space program, and the average guess when asked for a percentage has ranged from 10% to as high as 20%, and once in a while somebody will actually claim that it is merely 5% of the budget. My response is always the same, “If only.” Then I get to inform them that since 1975 the NASA budget has never exceeded 1% and that most years it is even lower at an average of about 0.75%; that’s right, a mere 3/4th of 1% of the budget. Another way of referring to it is as negligible. Yet, for reasons of picking on an easy target that will usually never get much resistance is the space program and since they get to say billions of dollars, it sounds like they are making a serious efforts.

So, now that we have traded the truth about the NASA budget and realize that they use the dollar amount as this is what they use when making something sound like it is lots of money, and when they wish to make some expenditure seem smaller, they will use the percentages, which these figures bears out. So, why has President Obama slashed the NASA budget and cancelled the plans for a Moon base and thus pretty much nixed any Mars manned program. President even went further and has made the number one mission for NASA to share efforts with the Muslim World. Perhaps it would be easiest to simply give you the truth from Mr. Bolden, President Obama’s pick to head NASA, who said: “When I became the NASA administrator, he [President Obama] charged me with three things. One, he wanted me to help reinspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.” There you have it, our space program is now centered to make the Muslim World feel it has accomplished great things while no longer seeking to do great things for America and Americans. Perhaps this is why the call for the next class of astronauts is not to be convened until 2013, after Inauguration Day I would bet. This is simply unacceptable and a disgrace to the United States and her people.

Beyond the Cusp

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