delay the foray into the final frontier
Space exploration is so, so cool. How could anyone deny that? You’ve seen some of this month’s new photos from Mars, right? Simply amazing.
However, at this particular time in history, space exploration is… just… oh, you’re gonna hate me for saying this, but screw it… space exploration is simply wrong.
What this country needs right now is education, not hi-res photos of the red planet. Otherwise, in two generations we won’t even have anyone smart enough left to work at NASA… in fact, NASA already employs someone dumb enough to produce a home page with a slow-loading Flash intro and no “skip movie” link (on the date of this post and for a couple weeks prior, at least).
All kidding aside, how much has the Spirit mission cost American taxpayers… and how much direct benefit will it provide? Our (supposedly) fiscally conservative president has just announced that our country is stepping up its space program with a vengeance. Sure, it’s probably just election year trash talk anyway, stirring up the pride and wonder of the voters following the Mars coverage, but we really shouldn’t be hearing this at all.
I’m as proud of our space program as just about any American. We’ve led the way, and I believe we can continue to do so by putting all of NASA’s efforts — for about the next 30 years or so — into theoretical research and computer modeling & simulations only. The savings would be tremendous. Besides, as much as we’ve accomplished, it’s not like we’ve been perfect. The U.S. space program (admittedly, along with the former Soviet Union and plenty of private enterprise) has already polluted space enough to endanger all our future endeavors. Sharp foresight we humans have, huh?
It’s time to realize that we have no business going to infinity and beyond until we get the world right down here. Someday the things we learn in space will have monumental effects on humanity; I really believe that — but for now, the solutions we need to our problems are still inside us, not out there.