In 2005 former President George W. Bush instituted the Constellation Program. This program set ambitious, local goals for the National Aeronautic Space Agency (NASA)(Chang). When President Barack Obama took office, however, he set out to change NASA’s objectives. Shifting focus away from local space, President Obama’s plan centered on exploring asteroids and later even Mars (Malik). Unfortunately, or rather maybe fortunately, the funding and laws needed to enact these new policies were stalled for several weeks as a result of the 2011 budget crisis. While NASA and several other federally-funded agencies were distressed at their momentary state of limbo (Moskowitz), this stall gave experts just the opportunity needed to expose the details within these unnecessary and potentially harmful changes.
“Clearly the big issue with NASA in this Congress is Money,” said Henry Hertzfeld, a professor of space policy and international affairs at George Washington University in Washington, D.C (Moskowitz). And in fact, money is the main concern on many people’s minds as the country slowly crawls its way out of a recession. Many people are demanding something be done about the rising “debt ceiling,” and many congressmen and women are struggling to comply in cutting the budget in order to keep their seats in Washington. However, the changes in NASA are just another example of how the government is failing to be fiscally responsible. Within the legislation of President Obama’s proposed changes, the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, funding for NASA will be increased by 6 billion dollars over the next five years (Foust). This move is not exactly championing the idea of a nation tightening its belt and buckling down on wasteful spending. Nor does it display a government who understand when its people are hurting. This act merely seems to be an odd, and possibly even blasphemous, move to average, struggling Americans to see their government expanding such miscellaneous projects like NASA.
Not to say that NASA and the United States’ Space Program is not important. However, for all this new money, the program does not seem to be expanding the United States’ control or even its productivity in the field. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, a senator from Texas, mourns the new plan, saying, “America’s decades-long dominance of space will finally come to an end.” (Foust) To many Americans, this does appear to be the case. Under the NASA Authority Act of 2010, the United States’ would no longer even have access to the new International Space Station. Since the space shuttle took its final flight before being retired, American astronauts have been left without a “ride.” Instead, United States’ astronauts are going to have to hitch-hike their way to space aboard other countries’ shuttles (Moskowitz). This hardly declares the excellence or exceptionalism that most Americans are used to boasting about their proud nation.
However, not all are opposed to President Obama’s new plans. Sally...