Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bake Sale, Anyone?


Human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit is not viable under the FY 2010 NASA budget guideline. So what does the future hold for the Shuttle, the ISS and Constellation? Having continual conversations about NASA’s budget is like exploring the cure for low blood pressure.

Congress, NASA and every Dom, Rick & Barry across the internet are debating the practical strategies, especially now that news media is printing headlines like: President Faces a "Kennedy Decision" on Space: Obama’s Choice for Future Spaceflight Could be as Momentous as JFK’s. Thank you, NBC.

Areas of the HSFPC report are vaguely-worded, leaving room for interpretation. One portion (and I love the wording in this) says: "Crucially, human space flight objectives should broadly align with key national objectives."

As if 307 million Americans could even get together and decide what toppings to get on a pizza, much less key national objectives.

I found an interesting cost visualization, and after staring at this incredulously for about half-an-hour, I’d just love for anyone to tell me that 'supporting space exploration' indicates out-of-whack priorities.

Space Exploration Costs
Your tax dollars at work.

Click the graphic or go to InformationIsBeautiful to see the full chart. It’s become well known that 'an extra $3billion' must somehow be found to continue manned missions when the committee concluded that "the ultimate goal of exploration is to chart a path for human expansion into the solar system. This is an ambitious goal, but one worthy of U.S. leadership..."

None of us know what criteria Congress will use to select NASA's future path, or how the White House may advise them on the options. Specifics for plan-reshaping seems to be in an annoying holding pattern. I’m realizing that the delay may be substantial, because it’s likely to become a divisive point of national contention. However, when I see "comparisons" like the one above, no one can convince me that the investment isn’t absolutely worth it.