President Obama recently had his NASA press conference and has outlined some of the goals for the space program. He is taking a lot of heat from some important people, as well as encountering people with a lot of vested interest, such as the thousands of workers in Florida and Alabama working on the Constellation spacecraft. That is the new ship which President Bush authorized to go the moon, and which is currently nine billion dollars invested as well as over-budget! So as we can all see, there are some serious issues that have to worked out with our space program, and it makes it that much tougher when jobs are at stake. So what are the new goals?
In a nutshell, the heart of the moon missions which the old administration outlined has been cut out. The only purpose now for the new Constellation spaceship is to act as a rescue vehicle for the ISS, known as the International Space Station. According to Obama, we've been to the moon already, and we need to go somewhere we've never been. Many people agree with that philosophy, but only one of the first men on the moon agrees and his name is Buzz Aldrin. Neil Armstrong who was the first man on the moon disagrees as well as the command module pilot, Michael Collins.
So the new destinations are traveling to and landing on an asteroid! Wow, this is no longer the stuff of science fiction and in fifteen years or so, we could actually be turning on our TV's and watching some asteroid come into view! Earth will look like just another speck in space, and whoever those brave astronauts are will soon realize that they are very, very far from home. This is deep space we are talking about, and missions such as this are critical to the next destination which is on the drawing board, landing a man on Mars and returning safely to Earth. According to the president, he says "I will be around to see this happen". Personally, I can't wait for this!
In the meantime, private industry must co-exist with NASA, and work together to commercialize space. As we all know, just the process of research and development brings an awful lot of new products to all of us. For instance, did you know that the hand-held vacuum cleaner is a space spin-off? As well as Velcro and that famous pen that writes upside down. We can only imagine what new products will enter our economy and I for one can hardly wait. We all need our economy to revitalize, and the conquest of space will certainly help. This has the echo's of the early sixties, but somehow the new path that NASA is going to take will be different as we are not involved in a "space race" like we were back then. Other countries will participate like they are doing now. Who knows, that first mission to the as of yet unpicked asteroid might be international in it's makeup.
We live in a very exciting time as we are all going to witness some new and wonderful things with our space program. The search for life is on-going, and we just might find it as we trek to the asteroids and beyond!