Nasa just had some major cutbacks from their budget and are in the works with Congress right now about a proposed budget for 2012. Part of Obama’s fiscal responsibility has been to cut NASA’s budget for manned spaceflights by 31%. This kind of cutback in the space program has huge and looming implications on the future that extend far beyond the scope of “Space Race” politics of the 70’s or American elitism. In fact, with the void of NASA’s programs shutting down you’ll begin to find more corporate adventures into the low Earth orbit, giving billionaires the privilege that few humans have ever had – space flight. It was only a matter of time before Richard Branson was up in space with a naked model wrapped around and here it is, his golden opportunity.
It just goes to show you how pervasive money has become in our society. In the wake of one of the worst global recessions in history, the people that stand to benefit most are those who are already in the 1% wealth distribution. Certainly they will be the financiers, the customers and the power brokers of space exploration in the future.
Well, here’s Carl Sagan’s take on the issue of space exploration as a kind of PR for both space exploration in general and specifically for NASA. The author of this video states, “I got frustrated with NASA and made this video. NASA is the most fascinating, adventurous, epic institution ever devised by human beings, and their media sucks. Seriously. None of their brilliant scientists appear to know how to connect with the social media crowd, which is now more important than ever. In fact, NASA is an institution whose funding directly depends on how the public views them. In NASA’s defense, they have embraced social media. I guess my point is that they don’t fully understand how to best use it. In all of their brilliance, NASA seems to have forgotten to share their hopes and dreams in a way the public can relate to, leaving one of humanity’s grandest projects with terrible PR and massive funding cuts.”
We were hunters and foragers. The frontier was everywhere. We were bounded only by the earth and the ocean and the sky. The open road still softly calls. Our little teraqueous globe is the madhouse of those hundred, thousand, millions of worlds. We, who cannot even put our own planetary home in order, riven with rivalries and hatreds, are we to venture out into space? By the time we’re ready to settle even the nearest other planetary systems we will have changed. The simple passage of so many generations would’ve changed us. Necessity would’ve changed us. We’re an adaptable species. It will not be we who reach Alpha Centauri and the other nearby stars. It will be a species very like us, but with more of our strengths and fewer of our weaknesses. More confident, far-seeing, capable and prudent. For all our failings, despite our limitations and fallibilities, we humans are capable of greatness. What new wonders undreamt of in our time will we have wrought in another generation; and another? How far will our nomadic species will have wondered by the end of the next century and the next millennium? Our remote descendants safely arrayed on many worlds through the solar system and beyond will be unified by their common heritage, by their regard for their home planet, and by the knowledge that, whatever other life may be, the only humans in all the Universe. They will gaze up and strain to find the blue dot in their skies. They will marvel at how vulnerable the repository of all our potential once was, how perilous our infancy, how humble our beginnings, how many rivers we had to cross before we found our way.