On Oct. 14, Felix Baumgartner captivated the minds and imaginations of millions of Americans with his world record-setting space jump from over 20 miles above the surface of the Earth.
Interestingly enough, just two weeks later the first commercial cargo flight into space was pulled off by the California-based company SpaceX. Both of these monumental achievements of science have one thing in common: the technology used in these missions was developed by NASA. However, as of late, this once-great administration has lost its luster, primarily due to the severe budget cuts it has endured.
President Obama’s proposed fiscal budget for 2013 calls for $309 million in cuts to the former leader in the space race of the ‘60s and ‘70s. That is a 20 percent slash of funds to NASA that would have gone to future Mars exploration and other missions.
That is somber news for anyone who grew up in the “Space Age” just a few decades ago. This country used to lead the way in discovering the infinite frontier of space, eager to learn more about what else is out there.
After the historic moon landing in 1969, America wondered how long would it be before we reached Mars and beyond. Unfortunately, 40 years later, we haven’t moved far from just dreaming.
No one has even been to the moon, much less Mars, since the last Apollo mission returned home in 1972. Sure, we’ve sent a few probes and put up some telescopes since then, but the drive to reach other worlds and the focus on space has long been dead.
Why is this happening? What happened to the “America of Tomorrow” and our dreams of moon bases? Well, in short, American politics got in the way.
The current allowance for NASA is .5 percent of the national budget, compared to the 4 percent it received in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Many argue that NASA is an unnecessary expenditure, and we can’t afford to keep it going at its current level, no matter how little percent of the budget it accounts for.
Let’s take a look at military spending in the United States and see if we can perhaps give NASA some of its money. Many politicians have proposed military spending to be around 4 percent of the GDP, not including war costs. Keep in mind it is estimated that the U.S. spent $12 million a day in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
It is ridiculous to say we can’t give even a small sliver of that wasteful spending to NASA. Yes, every mission may not be completely practical, but neither is buying another $600 million aircraft carrier.
I think it’s reasonable to ask our government to get rid of maybe one aircraft carrier or so to make room for NASA. If they do, the American people can start dreaming of the future again.