Organization Trends, July 2016 (PDF here)
By Art Harman
Summary: American leadership in space exploration helped create and fuel the high-tech boom that led U.S. global competitiveness since the early 1960s. NASA returned to our national prosperity and national security far more than the investments we made in the agency. We beat the Soviets to the Moon and pioneered the way for many commercial ventures. NASA was preparing to take Americans back to the Moon and on to Mars—until President Obama took office and had a very different objective in mind.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration used to be on the cutting edge of science, leading the way in space exploration and having an outsized impact on technological progress worldwide in the process. But today NASA is a shadow of its former self. President Obama isn’t interested in anything unless it advances his so-called social justice agenda. For example, left-wingers in general don’t like U.S. soldiers fighting wars; they prefer the armed forces performing social work on humanitarian missions. Sending Americans to Mars or beyond doesn’t move the leftist ball forward.
So NASA’s costly manned space exploration programs were low-hanging fruit for an administration whose primary interest is in making government bigger and more centralized. The more NASA is cut, the more the Obama administration can spend on welfare programs to buy more votes by expanding the ranks of the government-dependent.
But instead of baldly stating his objectives, President Obama has simply put NASA on the back burner, turning it increasingly into an agency disseminating left-wing political propaganda for mass consumption.
Remember NASA’s glorious past
The world held its collective breath on July 20, 1969 as Neil Armstrong took the first step on the Moon and proclaimed, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Generations since benefitted from American-led advances in technology, medicine, and manufacturing, as humanity entered the space age. The space program is “American exceptionalism” defined, and NASA has continued to benefit America by carrying out its official mission: “To pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.”
President Obama subverted this mission to concentrate on global warming extremism, Muslim outreach, missions to nowhere, and a future almost devoid of the giant leaps and planetary probes that rightly awed us for decades and advanced America’s competitiveness in high technology. (For a riveting history of the lunar program and the way it overcame immense technological and managerial challenges, see Apollo by Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox.)
Here’s how it went down: In early 2010, Obama cancelled the Constellation program (already a reported $10 billion and seven years in progress) and its Ares I and Ares V rockets, the Orion spacecraft, the Altair lunar lander, and even America’s plans to return to the Moon and go on to Mars.
With that, American space exploration was dead, and it may remain so for a decade or longer.
To create the appearance that America still has a space program, a project was invented to spend the next 10 to 15 years planning one single mission to a fragment of an asteroid.
A bipartisan majority in Congress united against Obama’s destruction—partially. While Congress didn’t have the courage to force NASA to restore the plans and hardware required to return to the Moon, lawmakers did save the two most critical elements of the program, the Orion spacecraft and the Ares V rocket, and approved funding for commercial crew launches. The Ares V Moon-Mars rocket was renamed the “Space Launch System” (SLS) and was somewhat improved. Congress’s apparent goal was to proceed with the core elements of the program to allow the next president to restore NASA’s mission of space exploration.
While this was happening, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, a former astronaut, U.S. Marine Corps flag officer, and test pilot, was making diversionary excuses for the cancellation of manned space exploration and carrying out President Obama’s orders. In July 2010, Bolden explained to Al-Jazeera:
When I became the NASA administrator, [President Obama] charged me with three things. One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering.
Michael Griffin, who ran NASA in President George W. Bush’s second term, described the Muslim outreach initiative as a “perversion” of the agency’s mission:
“NASA was chartered by the 1958 Space Act to develop the arts and sciences of flight in the atmosphere and in space and to go where those technologies will allow us to go,” Griffin said. “That’s what NASA does for the country. It is a perversion of NASA’s purpose to conduct activities in order to make the Muslim world feel good about its contributions to science and mathematics” (Truth Revolt, Feb. 20, 2015, http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/flashback-obama-turns-nasa-muslim-outreach-program).
Nowhere on Bolden’s list was advancing NASA’s mission of space exploration and remaining the world leader in technological innovation.
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