Space Race

Breakthroughs and great steps for mankind have been speckling the space exploration front for a few years now. With ambitious expeditions comes the need for more funding, which has been a source of controversy across the nation; should we funnel more money into space exploration or cut some serious funds?

Personally, I am often surprised by how many people believe that less money should be put towards space exploration. I feel that it’s kind of a no-brainer.

Among other large possibilities, we all have to consider that if this planet should, for any reason, become uninhabitable, space is our best chance of survival. Cutting funding only keeps us in the dark of our dying planet (among other extraterrestrial and terrestrial disasters). As loony as that may sound, the danger is real.

Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, addressed the public at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida on Sept. 22 and made some very grand gestures toward the space exploration. “China may one day look down on us from the moon. That’s unacceptable,” he stated.

Due to the proximity of Kennedy Space Center to the area, the crowd reacted very positively to Ryan’s statements. Though I disagree that space exploration should be a race with other countries to “move up” or “claim land” in space, it’s good to hear from a candidate that there won’t be anymore ruthless slashings to the budget for space exploration, as NASA’s shuttle fleet was retired during Obama’s term.

However, further insight reveals that both Romney and Ryan voted for budget cuts and funding cuts that affected NASA in the past. Ryan has voted against NASA funding, and Romney’s budget cut plan would do some hefty hacking to the money funnelled toward the space program, as well. Sounds like the candidates are blowing some appealing hot air. Romney’s “plan” for space exploration is also vague and eyebrow-raising. Sifting through the points he’s made to the public reveals some unnervingly insubstantial statements about what will happen to space exploration if he becomes president. He seems to want to move the focus of space exploration from “discovery” to “commercial,” which would effectively pull the rug out from underneath the entire idea of actually furthering the “exploration” portion of “space exploration.”

Obama managed to extend NASA’s life two more flights worth. Despite the fact that he froze the 2012 budget to $300 million less than what NASA called for in a “road map” circulating through Congress as we speak, the two additional flights on NASA’s timeline stuck with me. However, I cannot agree with his budget cuts toward the space program. Neither of the candidates are doing what I would like to see done. Romney/Ryan’s budget cuts and Obama’s pointing of fingers (despite the fact that he is freezing the budget) are proof of empty promises.

It’s unfortunate, but I see the love and respect that used to be held for the space program in this country dying in the eyes of the people who could rekindle it.

We have to understand that furthering science and discovery is a priority in this country. Neglecting advances in science and engineering will create a black hole where revolutionary and world-changing projects used to thrive.

An abrupt stop in scientific progress is the last thing this country needs.

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