Progressives love to point to the Apollo space program to justify their vision of astronomical government programs, saying something like, "If we can put a man on the moon, just think what government can do." Well, now government can't even do that. As part of budget cuts, the Obama Administration will kill NASA's back-to-the-moon program and replace it, primarily, with a plan that pays private companies to take NASA Astronauts into space.
The decision represents a thunderous demolition of the Bush-era strategy at the space agency, which had already poured $9 billion into a new rocket, the Ares 1, and a new crew capsule, Orion.
Both were years from completion. And now both have been spiked by the administration's 2011 budget, released Monday. The budget includes $2.5 billion over the next two years to shut down Constellation.
It's sad that it still costs $2.5 billion just to end a program, but President Obama deserves credit for proposing any budget cuts--especially cuts that direct NASA to rely on the private sector. They may be minuscule compared to the rest of his spending plans, but we ought to encourage any cuts he manages to make.
Unfortunately some “fiscally-conservative” Republicans won’t do that when the cuts are proposed by Obama and/or the cuts take your money away from some of their constituents:
The Obama plan triggered immediate protests on Capitol Hill.
"The president's proposed NASA budget begins the death march for the future of U.S. human spaceflight," Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) said Monday...
Rep. Pete Olson (R-Tex.) said, "This is a crippling blow to America's human spaceflight program."
Please. The future of spaceflight does not depend on government. Virgin Galactic's Space Ship Two already is engaging in test flights to take passengers into low orbit. 20 privately funded teams are vying to win the $20 million Lunar X-Prize by sending a robot to the moon before 2013. SpaceX, a private space transport company, has already won contracts to deliver supplies to the international space station...and soon may be the one giving rides to NASA astronauts:
Elon Musk, founder and chief executive of SpaceX, a company that could bid on a commercial contract to launch astronauts, said the administration was being realistic in its cancellation of Constellation.
"There is no way there's the appetite for another Apollo-like program with Apollo-like budget expenditures," Musk said.
Thank goodness for that.