Monday, January 31, 2011

Is President Obama Against Manned Space Exploration?

Though currently busy deciding which truly unnecessary government expenditures to cut in order to rein-in on a runaway deficit, is there truth to the rumours that President Obama is against manned space exploration?

By: Ringo Bones

I’ve just heard President Obama's staunchest critics - both famous and the not-so - after finishing this year’s State-of-the-Nation Address. Quite a number of them voiced criticisms aimed at President Obama worded in a way that can be defined as no longer politically-correct in this day and age. But the question now remains, is President Obama really against manned space exploration?

It might be just an unfortunate coincidence that NASA’s Space Shuttle fleet is slated to be retired during President Obama's first term in office that's already mired in a weak economy and runaway deficit spending noting that the myriad of parts of the Space Shuttle can no longer guaranty the safety of its crew and reliability of operation. Not to mention that the Shuttle fleet might at the present austere fiscal environment of post-subprime mortgage crisis America be seen as an unnecessary government expense that is driving the US government’s runaway deficit.

Though a search for a better and low-operating-cost replacement for NASA’s Space Shuttle fleet is already under way – under the Obama administration’s watch I might add, it is worth noting that historically, the US Republican party – unlike their Democratic counterparts – has been largely anti-scientific research since the end of World War II.

Back in the mid-1950s when the XB-70 Valkyrie program was slated to replace the B-52 as a Mach 3-capable strategic heavy bomber, then Republican President “Ike” Eisenhower wanted the program scrapped because it was too expensive and might only be marginally better than the existing fleet of B-52s. Fortunately, when Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy got elected, the XB-70 program got a new lease of life as a platform for aviation and aerospace research. The XB-70 program only got cancelled when a tragic crash destroyed one of the three prototype planes.

So is President Obama – which is a Democrat lest you forget – really against manned space exploration? While the other camp – ie. The Republicans – obsessing over Creationism / Intelligent Design / Bible-based sham science to be taught in American schools, President Obama’s renewable energy programs that would grant America one more step to be independent from Arab crude are blocked by now-Republican majority congress. Not to mention other scientific programs that would eventually lead into a low-cost and more reliable replacement for NASA’s ageing Space Shuttle Fleet. President' Obama's plans to out-compete and out-innovate the People's Republic of China could might as well be shot-down by the US Republican party who unfortunately has been "cozy" with Mainland China since Bush senior was President.

The rumours behind President Obama’s disdain for America’s manned space exploration and intentions to scrap it are more likely to be politically motivated by the other camp and very likely to be untrue. After all, will our kids still be able to navigate all the way to the Moon if American schools start teaching that the Earth is the “center” of the Universe?

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