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    Obama: Space program a necessity, not a luxury
    Project: Polytopia

    "As president, I believe space exploration is not a luxury, not an afterthought, an essential part of the quest."

    Obama: Space program is not a luxury
    By SETH BORENSTEIN and ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writers Seth Borenstein And Erica Werner, Associated Press Writers 3 mins ago

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – President Barack Obama declared Thursday he was "100 percent committed to the mission of NASA and its future" as he outlined plans for federal spending to bring more private companies into space exploration following the soon-to-end space shuttle program.

    "We want to leap into the future," not continue on the same path as before, Obama said as he sought to reassure NASA workers that America's space adventures would soar on despite the termination of shuttle flights.

    Obama acknowledged criticism, even from some prominent astronauts, for his drastic changes to the space program's direction. But, he said, "The bottom line is: Nobody is more committed to manned space flight, the human exploration of space, than I am. But we've got to do it in a smart way; we can't keep doing the same old things as before."

    He said that by 2025 he expects U.S. space exploration to reach beyond the moon and further into the solar system's reaches.

    Within his lifetime, Obama said, America will "send astronauts to Mars and bring them back safely."

    Obama visited the launch pads where U.S. space voyages begin and said the space program is not a luxury but a necessity for the nation.

    He said the Kennedy Space Center launched Americans into space and has inspired a nation for half a century. He said NASA represents what it means to be American — "reaching for new heights and reaching for what's possible" — and is not close to its final days.

    It really is exciting to me to hear a statement like the bolded one at the top coming from the president of the US. I haven't heard anything even near that coming from someone in power in the nearly-two-decades since I was born. I'm not sure, but this might be the most proactive statement made about space travel since Kennedy wanted to land on the moon. Obama claims by 2025 we should be beyond the moon, and within his lifetime we should "send astronauts to Mars and bring them back safely."

    Those are some invigorating words. I would love to see NASA redefine itself... I think the current NASA is a vestige, a remnant of the 20th century. I'm down for Obama's new 21st century NASA to really start taking us somewhere. Hopefully Virgin Galactic and Google and the rest of the private sector can really help kickstart this by challenging NASA with some strong competition.

    If your country's space program is heating up too, let me know in the comments!

    Thu, Apr 15, 2010  Permanent link

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    alok subbarao     Thu, Jul 1, 2010  Permanent link
    Well, I sure hope he follows up on it; looks like the oil spill (rather, "oil continuous eruption") might set plans back a bit.
    Nokadota     Fri, Jul 2, 2010  Permanent link
    Oh man, I am hella excited for this as well! 2025 eh? I'll be 37 then so I'll still be kicking around [hopefully]. What an amazing time our future kids / grandkids will be growing up in.
    Infinitas     Fri, Jul 2, 2010  Permanent link
    I think Obama should be the last person getting praise for promoting space exploration, considering he has all but abandoned NASA and left space exploration up to either non-U.S. countries and/or the private sector. Plus, he abandoned the go-back-to-the-moon mission, which would have spawned a moon colony.

    I'm all for the private sector, but the amount of R&D and funding required to really push commercial space flight and further exploration is immense. Hopefully it won't take as long or be as difficult as I think it might be.
    nagash     Fri, Jul 2, 2010  Permanent link
    I don't put my feet an a Microsoft Shutter, that's for sure.
    Nokadota     Mon, Jul 5, 2010  Permanent link
    @nagash - LMFAO! That's for sure.
    BenRayfield     Mon, Jul 5, 2010  Permanent link
    "We want to leap into the future, not continue on the same path as before, Obama said"

    When he says "future", does that mean a future of minor improvements in some areas and continued failures in most other areas, leading to World War 3 and extinction of Humans? Or will we get lucky and do only the minor improvement parts?

    I am not impressed by mass-based propulsion. Burning huge amounts of rocket fuel does not result in faster-than-light spaceships, and more research in that area has a "glass ceiling" over it. In general, anyone who chooses to research under too close a "glass ceiling" is mismanaging their resources and should be replaced. It would be more useful to use resources to make sure every person on Earth has a better life than the average animal caged in a zoo, and I think most people are aware that many millions of people have a worse life than that. Why spend resources on that? Because 7 billion Human minds, if they can learn to work together, are much more likely to figure out how to move a spaceship faster than light, than a highly paid team of experts.

    I can't blame Obama for spending more on advancing the space program, since that is what many people want, so instead of asking him to go against what the people of USA want, I offer a deviously simple solution to get them to ask for what I wrote above: Do a vote, where there is a section where the voter chooses the dollar amount they prefer the USA government to value a Human life at, but not for all Humans together... instead for each country. For example, you can vote that the USA government, when calculating its actions to maximize its given goals, should value Chinese people at x dollars per Human life and value USAmerican people at y dollars per Human life, and similar questions for every country, always optional to answer anything, but if a voter does not answer anything for a specific country, then those who do answer get to choose that dollar amount instead. The rules of this vote will be the USA government has to obey the will of the people, on median (proven to be a better number combiner in voting than averaging), and spend money to save lives in specific countries up to the supply/demand chosen by the USA voters. This is democracy at an unprecedented level of honesty. Who would dare set the dollar value for some Human lives lower than the dollar value for the life of a caged animal in a zoo (make sure to calculate that for a few species of animal and give those numbers/species on the voting form, so people can make a more informed choice when choosing the value of Human lives per country)? Certainly not the majority of voters. Theres your solution, and it can't fail. Ending world hunger and diseases and most wars etc isn't that hard, just a puzzle to solve at no overall cost to any one group of people or area of government or research (long-term cost, not immediate cost). Its just a puzzle. That's 1 of the many solutions. Try it.
    shiftctrlesc     Wed, Jul 7, 2010  Permanent link
    Space exploration IS a luxury when ...
    your country is in the middle of an economic depression,
    you've let bankers steal trillions of dollars from the treasury,
    you've declared universal healthcare an impossibility,
    you have citizens living in tent cities,
    millions of unemployed,
    and an ecological disaster of unknown proportions that is threatening the livelihood of entire areas of your country.
    notthisbody     Wed, Jul 7, 2010  Permanent link

    Indeed. i have an acquaintance who had a meeting at Nasa Ames with some of their top engineers, including their deep space exploration team. They presented some quite radical technology, that would in part allow them to be able to operate in a more sustainable manner in outer space for extended voyages.

    He prefaced it with this: "As above, so below". If they don't implement the sustainable solutions they need for extended space travel on the earth first, we shouldn't be going back to the moon, or to Mars, or anywhere else. we've got enough solutions to implement right now, right here.

    that being said, he also mentioned that NASA should be looking for innovation coming out of nowhere, so yes indeed let them redefine themselves and show their relevancy to the slightly more practical human struggles versus the noble, epic and grandiose dream of touching the limits of our physical universes (which, don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for too).