Anti-science Senate making big mistake cutting NASA Budget

This post was written by marc on June 18, 2015
Posted Under: Letters to the Editor

The Republican controlled Senate Appropriations Committee has made a huge mistake in voting to cut $300 million from NASAs budget. This cut will result in delaying America’s manned space flight capabilities at least another 2 years during which time we will pay the Russians more than the $500 million dollars a year to carry our astronauts to space.

In 2011 America lost the ability to launch humans into space when the Space Shuttle program was retired. Since then all our astronauts have been dependent on hitching rides in the International Space Station (ISS) on Russian made Soyuz rockets at a price of $70 million dollars a seat. So the Senate has decided not to build our own space capability for the cost of just over 4 rides to space with the Russians. Is that crazy or what? Why should America keep paying the Russian $500 million a year when we could be doing it ourselves?

To add insult to injury our relationship with the Russians has not been good lately. In response to America pressuring Russia over the Ukraine, Russia has said to NASA that if America imposes sanctions that we can use a trampoline to get into space. So American foreign policy is limited because in the year 2015 America has less capabilities to deliver humans to space than we had in the year 1960.

I don’t know what it is about Republicans being hostile to science as if science is our enemy but being anti-science is a huge mistake. Science and technology is a huge part of America’s advantage in the world and if we lose that then – well – we are at the mercy of the more technically sophisticated Russians and Chinese; and isn’t that just a little bit sad and embarrassing to accept.

America has national security interests at stake and being dependent of other countries, especially countries like Russia and China put us under their thumb. And for what? What do we gain by doing this? The only reason that I can tell is that this move is part of the “culture wars” where Republicans are angry at NASA for studying climate change and wants to punish NASA for launching too make rockets to study Earth’s climate to see if we are heating up the planet.

Oddly enough even that is a bad strategy. If Republicans don’t believe climate change is real the best way for them to disprove it is to let NASA launch these weather satellites and get the data. Then if the data disproves global warming the Republicans can say, “told ya so!” But to not know what’s happening and decide that you can just believe the truth away is just not the way Reality works. In this world Reality is God and we want to make Reality our friend – not our enemy. In this Reality bad choices have consequences and if America is going to thrive we have to make good decisions that we don’t have to pay for later.

Not only that but Americans of all political and religious groups like what we have been doing with new technology. We like seeing SpaceX launching impressive rockets and working towards colonizing Mars. We like driving Tesla electric cars and want better batteries, greater range, and more affordability. We like our smart phones with GPS navigation that comes from space based location systems, We like getting free clean power directly from the Sun with solar panels instead of burning coal and oil. If Congress takes a position against what Americans want then we will have to replace then next year with people who are running on a Reality friendly platform.

This Thursday the Senate is scheduled to debate an amendment to restore NASA funding. I strongly urge them to pass it. And I warn every member of Congress that we are tracking you and we will remember how you voted when you ask for out votes next election.

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