As we begin this new year, the Iowa Caucuses are beginning the Presidential Election feeding frenzy for the mainstream corporate media to bloviate non-stop over the Democratic and Republican candidates. Many topics have been discussed and masticated over the past few months, but one hasn’t received the coverage the others have; funding NASA and space exploration.
I am listing the following candidates along with their responses when asked the question, “How would you go about funding NASA and future space programs?” For the sake of brevity, I’m only listing the current top three candidates from both parties:
“Hillary will enhance American leadership in space, including:
- Pursuing an ambitious 21st century Space Exploration Program, by implementing a balanced strategy of robust human spaceflight, expanded robotic spaceflight, and enhanced space science activities.
- Developing a comprehensive space-based Earth Sciences agenda, including full funding for NASA’s Earth Sciences program and a space-based Climate Change Initiative that will help us secure the scientific knowledge we need to combat global warming.
- Promoting American leadership in aeronautics by reversing funding cuts to NASA’s and FAA’s aeronautics R&D budget.”
“As a Chinese spacecraft is ready to head to the moon, the leading U.S. democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), is calling for an increase in overall U.S. robotic exploration, but not necessarily manned exploration of the moon.
“Former senator John Edwards (N.C.), who is vying with Clinton and Obama for the Democratic nomination, said in a statement: ‘We need a balanced space and aeronautics program. We need to support solar system exploration as an important goal for our human and robotic programs, but only as one goal among several.’”
“If elected President, how would you balance the scientific research at NASA with the manned spaceflight program which, arguably, has dubious scientific value?”
“I am a strong supporter of our space program. It reflects the best of the American spirit of optimism, discovery and progress. We need a balanced space and aeronautics program. We need to support solar system exploration as an important goal for our human and robotic programs, but only as one goal among several. And we need to invite other countries to share in a meaningful way in both the adventure and the cost of space exploration.”
“Barack Obama’s early education and K-12 plan package costs about $18 billion per year. He will maintain fiscal responsibility and prevent any increase in the deficit by offsetting cuts and revenue sources in other parts of the government. The early education plan will be paid for by delaying the NASA Constellation Program for five years”
Giuliani said the United States should prioritize energy independence much like it did the space race, when Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson fired up the gears of industry and imagination after the Soviet Union beat the U.S. into space.
The result was a bipartisan thrust to the moon that transcended several presidencies and spawned a generation of national pride and scientific spin-offs.
“Politics aside and national interests first. Not only did it help us ultimately win the Cold War, it helped us in countless other ways, in scientific development and products,” Giuliani said.
“We can do the same thing with energy independence. But we’ve got to have a president who knows how to get things done.”
In response to the following question: “Is there a candidate amongst you willing to take a pledge on behalf of the Mars Society of sending an American to the surface of Mars by 2020? If not, what is your vision for human space exploration?”
“Whether we ought to go to Mars is not a decision that I would want to make, but I would certainly want to make sure that we expand the space program, because every one of us who are sitting here tonight have our lives dramatically improved because there was a space program — whether it’s these screens that we see or the incredible electronics that we use, including the GPS systems that got many of you to this arena tonight.
“Some of you were late because you didn’t have one, by the way. Or whether it’s the medical technologies that saved many of our lives or the lives or our families, it’s the direct result of the space program, and we need to put more money into science and technology and exploration.
“Now, whether we need to send somebody to Mars, I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what: If we do, I’ve got a few suggestions, and maybe Hillary could be on the first rocket to Mars.”
“Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney‘s campaign responded by providing an article from the Florida Today newspaper that said: ‘During the first campaign visit to the Space Coast by a 2008 presidential candidate, Republican Mitt Romney said he supports Bush’s vision for space exploration and has no reason yet to propose a new direction.’”
Actually, I’m not holding my breath that any of these people will follow through with any funding whatsoever to cover the mainstream space program given the current state of the nation’s finances. The money that went into various politicians, contractors, Middle East warlords’, kings’ and presidents’ Swiss and Cayman Island bank accounts during the past seven years could’ve paid for five Mars Missions and then some. The only candidate who was honest enough to say he was going to cut funding was Barack Obama. The others would say anything anyway.
Do I sound cynical? You bet. The past thirty-six years should speak for itself.
Not that it matters much. I believe there is an off-the-books funded space program anyway. One that has done many, many things.
That’s a topic for another day.