Thursday, June 20, 2013

To the Moon?

My friend C emailed me this morning asking what my take was on the current House Science Committee proposing NASA scrap its asteroid mission and work instead on returning to the moon.  My personal thought is that the current generation of astronauts has never been higher than 240 miles above earth (the orbit of ISS).  The moon is 240,000 miles away.  Big difference.  How can we go to Mars or anywhere else when they have no experience traveling to or working on any foreign body?  It makes so much more sense to me to go back to the moon first.  But politicians are completely self serving and support of NASA was only strong in the 60s because of the role it played in the cold war.  That's the only reason we went to the moon then.  There's no political reason to go now, only scientific.  And NASA is underfunded, so obviously politicians don't care much about scientific impact.  In fact, the bill the committee members are currently discussing would actually cut NASA's budget.  So even though there is some political support and my fingers are definitely crossed, I kind of doubt that there will be strong enough support from congress to fund NASA for the type of money it would take to make a moon and Mars mission feasible within a near-term time frame.

All of it makes me just want to go on a Neil deGrasse Tyson level rant about the state of our current space program.  Here's my latest favorite (it's really good but also pretty long, recommend playing in the background while you do something else):

(image from here)

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