Bye, bye Moon. NASA cannot reach you

So the rumors  that have been swirling around the Internet for the last few days are true – Obama’s budget proposal does scrap NASA’s  Constellation progam – or in other words, NASA’s planned missions to the Moon and Mars.  The Ares rockets will be scrapped, and the space shuttle program only has five more flights left before it ends this September.  After that,  NASA has no way of sending any astronauts into space for the foreseeable future.   We will still have the Internatonal Space Station, but it will be serviced by Soyuz rockets, and given the state they are in, I wonder how long that will last.

The Ares 1-X at its test launch (Pic: NASA)

The Ares 1-X at its test launch (Pic: NASA)

I was horrified when I first heard the news, and I tried to reason why the Obama administration was doing this.  It’s true  that the Constellation program is way behind schedule and there are lots of problems with the Ares rockets, but you don’t give up on a moon mission just because it’s expensive, or because you’re running a little late.

So is the Obama administration giving up on manned missions altogether?  Do they feel that manned space programs aren’t a good use of scarce funding, and they would rather divert the funds to robotic missions instead ?

If that were so, I can see some rationale in that argument.  But instead (and this is what’s even more puzzling and horrifying) Obama’s budget, while cutting NASA’s budget,  plans to instead spend $6 billion in funding commercial space taxis.  In other words, it wants to subsidize private companies who are planning for-profit space tourism flights for the rich.  I cannot figure this out.  Why?

Is this the direction America’s space program will go then – from research to junkets?  If so, that is very sad indeed.

I am very glad, though, to know that all is not lost.  We will still have humans on the moon in just a decade.   India plans to have a manned mission to the Moon as early as 2020,  around the same time that China too, plans to send its astronauts. The Russians had a 2025 mission planned a few years ago, I’m not sure if it  still exists.  Now that the US is definitely not in the race (at least not for a mission by 2020), we can safely assume the next person on the moon will be from either India or China.

So perhaps what we are seeing is really a passing of the baton from the US to India, China and other countries with ambitions in space.

So bye, bye moon – for now.  We will visit you soon, though.

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8 thoughts on “Bye, bye Moon. NASA cannot reach you

  1. A very sad day in deed just seen it on the news here in the uk 😦
    i can live without going to the moon again, but i REALLY wanted to see man land on mars before i die

  2. As a child, I was fascinated by NASA’s space program, but now I wonder about the investment of so much money into something with returns of doubtful value. What you wrote about though, of the government investing in commercial space taxis is appalling. This is certainly NOT what I want my taxes to be wasted on.

    • I agree that prioritizing robotic missions over manned missions would make for more efficient use of funds. We’ve had at least 2 shuttle launches to the ISS to supply toilets, and in any case, most of the payload a shuttle carries on each trip is water for the ISS residents. We must surely have figured out all about human physiology in space by now, and there’s no real need for an astronaut on the Moon/ Mars when we haven’t mapped it out or taken any other steps towards establishing a base.

      But this still doesn’t explain why the govt. needs to fund commercial space taxis that can only go to Low Earth Orbit and can at best supply passengers to the ISS.

  3. Did the spanish discuss in similar fashion before launching Colombus to ‘discover’ the new world ?

    Whether it happened so or not, the result for Native Americans was devastating.

    And for Native Africans and Australians and Asians. and for Earth itself.

    Will it be any different this time ?

  4. You’re all talking as if America is the only country sending people out to space. The whole world doesn’t revolve around America AMIRITE

  5. Not to mention all the starving people in this world and the trillions of dollars that had been funding black op,s to the moon; and the lies NASA has been perpetrating to the American and world people. If I was an American I would kick NASA,s ASS from one end of the country to the other ; and if you really want to know what’s going on with your tax dollars; I’m also including Canadians here; because we are also involved in this charade, check out on U Tube the national press release of 2001..These men and women have put their national security oaths; aside and have chosen in their retirement years; to give what is due to the people of North America;And the world the truth, and they do it at risk and have done so. Since area 51. I happen to be 63 years old; and have watched NASA lie lie lie over the years. I used to listen to them on my big C band dish ;when they had flights to the moon??and saw entities outside their window. After NASA would shut them up, and make them look stupid! great way to treat men and women; risked their lives going up in these tin cans, or yes NASA has been kicked off of the moon; it is crawling with alien entities; DO YOUR RESEARCH and P

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