Opinion

Obama effectively ends U.S.-manned space flight

“We choose not to go to the moon. We choose not to go to the moon in the foreseeable future and not to do the other things, not because they are hard, but because they are expensive, because that goal will serve only to waste our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are unwilling to pay for, one we are unwilling to continue, and one which we intend to abandon…”

Of course, I’m paraphrasing the speech that, nearly 50 years ago, set the lunar dream in motion.

With mere words, John F. Kennedy placed his nation on a path that would lead it to accomplish the greatest feat in human history. As a direct result of JFK’s inspiration, the United States has landed on the moon seven times. Brave men with manly names like Buzz, Conrad, Shepard, Harrison and Armstrong took flight aboard craft like Eagle, Intrepid, Antares and Challenger. Each time, the world watched, dreamed, and cheered. In the years since the Apollo program ended, the missions have taken on nearly legendary status, leading the disillusioned to the idiotic notion that such an undertaking was simply too massive to have been real. It wasn’t. It just took one man with vision, a person who actually believed that America could achieve the impossible, to articulate a dream.

Shortly before George W. Bush left office, he created the Constellation program and we began the adventure again. We were to reach the Moon’s surface by 2020.

Unfortunately, with the stroke of the budgetary pen, President Barack Obama has gutted NASA’s budget, ending the nascent moon mission and pounding a major nail into the coffin of U.S.-manned space exploration. The space shuttle program has only five more missions before its retirement. After that, Americans will reach the International Space Station aboard Russian Soyuz capsules until 2020. Beyond that, there are no plans for Americans to return to space. Don’t worry, though, Obama assures us that NASA will have enough cash to keep doing research into the bogus science of man-made global warming.

As the president said during a speech last week, there will still be funding for what he termed “programs I care about.”

Since the moon shot is obviously not something that captures the current presidential imagination, it’s gone—sacrificed to the laughable notion of fiscal responsibility within the largest, most bloated, irresponsible budget in history. Instead, Obama has taken $6 billion from NASA, one-third of its 2009 budget, and offered it to private companies to encourage their space initiatives. Rather than do something that inspires pride in their country’s ambition, Americans will be able to watch as corporations line up to kiss the federal ring, grab some tax dollars, and spend it on low-end rockets that will push the wealthy into orbit for a few seconds at a time. Here’s hoping they’ve unionized, helped get the president elected, or promised some sort of future campaign donation kickback, because, as we’ve seen with the government auto takeover, Obama doesn’t embrace the private sector unless it benefits Democrats directly.

Americans will also be able to enjoy the view as China pursues its own lunar dreams, since the Chinese National Space Agency has managed to find the enthusiasm Obama lacks. If things continue as it appears they will, the next two decades will see the CNSA emerge as the global leader in manned spaceflight, likely achieving their goal of reaching the moon sometime between 2020 and 2025.

In the end, the most disturbing thing about the president’s decision to eviscerate NASA is that it accomplishes absolutely nothing. If it somehow fixed his massive budgetary problems, there might be a justification. Sadly, it doesn’t. His budget still creates a trillion dollars of new debt, per year, for the next 10 years. The money he’s taken from the space program does nothing to stem the tide of red ink, will serve to increase unemployment, and fails, in every way, to advance the American cause. So why are we choosing this course?

Imagine how different the world would be if JFK had gone to Rice Stadium in 1962, stood before that crowd, and opted to squash the concept of American exceptionalism in favor of a negligible, short-term, financial gain. Obama has done just that, embracing instead the failed ideology of Walter Mondale, who once said NASA was “a waste of money that would be better spent on welfare.”

If Democrats were smart, they’d ignore Mondale in favor of their flawed forebear, Lyndon Johnson, who said “I do not believe that this generation of Americans is willing to resign itself to going to bed each night by the light of a communist moon.” It was true then, and it still rings true today.

Perhaps there’s still some hope. Maybe Congress will do the right thing and reject this nonsense. If not, President Obama’s most prominent legacy may be the Democrat PR disaster of a Chinese flag planted at Tranquility Base—a nightmare scenario, at least to those of us who still believe in the inherent greatness of this nation.

Robert Laurie writes a daily political commentary blog, The Robalution. Robert holds a degree in English from Wayne State University, and has worked in advertising as a graphic designer and copy writer.