The U.S. spaceflight gap between 2010 and 2015

Is anyone worried as much as I am about the spaceflight gap the United States will experience between 2010 and 2015?  In 2010, the space shuttle fleet will be grounded so NASA can begin working on human exploration of the moon and Mars. NASA’s next-generation spacecraft, the Orion capsule, will not be ready for piloted flight until March 2015!  How will the ongoing problem of Russia wanting to flex their military muscles and invade former Communist block nations like Georgia change the U. S. involvement with the International Space Station?

In a March 30, 2007 AP press article on this subject,  the U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the Florida Democrat who chairs the Space, Aeronautics and Related Sciences subcommittee made the following comment:

“Who knows what the geopolitics is going to be like in 2015?” asks  “Is Russia still going to be allied with us?  Would they possibly be allied with China at that point?”

On the August 15, 2008, the National Public Radio program All Things Considered had a great news story about how the recent tensions of Russia may hurt the NASA space program.  Tom Feeney, a Republican congressman from Florida, made the following comment about the five year U.S. spaceflight gap:

“The challenge we have is that for approximately five years, the plan — which is a very bad plan but is the only plan that NASA and the administration and Congress have approved — is to be dependent on the Russian Soyuz vehicle to get people to and from the international space station.”

He also adds:

“And so now, with the political realities with Russia invading Georgia, we have a new wrinkle thrown in.”

Obama plans to cut NASA funding will delay our reemergence into space even further as sited in an MSNBC news article entitled Obama’s Education Rollout:

“Though Obama called for a renewed investment in math and science education, his plan would actually pull money from the federal government’s greatest investments and achievements in math and science. Obama would delay funding for the NASA Constellation program for five years, though he would maintain the $500 million in funding the program would receive for its manufacturing and technology base, in order to help fund his education policy. The campaign did not say how much money delaying the program would provide.”

NASA funding should not be cut!  I understand in order to achieve our space goals, we need new scientists and engineers to do the job.  However, we need to reintroduce the mystery and wonder of human exploration of space to our school kids.  An alternative measure for funding education can be found.  The United States is in a brand new and important space race with not only Russia, but China, Japan, and even India.  The sad thing is that many people haven’t a clue.  I guess ignorance is bliss.

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