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Constellation on the chopping block

What's the big deal?

Background on the Constellation Project

Problems with the program

Time for a change?

Putting the debate in context


References & Links

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Conclusion: NASA needs a place in human spaceflight

In my own opinion, the ability of space and human spaceflight to inspire Americans, drive research and ingenuity are of paramount importance, and the program is one that we should continue, under American control, not just that of private industry, as long as we possibly can. A survey done in Nature magazine found that of almost 800 researcher who had contributed to the magazine between 2007 and 2009, half of the respondents said the Apollo missions inspired them to become scientists of various disciplines. The power of America's human spaceflight prigram to rais awareness of and interest in scientific and technological undertakings are unparalleled. NASA's importance in Cold War America cannot be denied, and it still maintains a symbolic space in the national psyche, even if a somewhat diminished one. The decision to turn responsiblity for human space travel over to private industry would make for a very different feeling towards NASA. Sending sattelites and rovers up into space and  does not evoke the same sort of feelings as does seeing NASA safely launch American astronauts into space and safely return them home. Even if this were not a concern for American prestige and the place of space science in the U.S., the problem of private industry not yet being ready to take over the reins from NASA puts the country at risk of further declining position in space. In the years between NASA's final shuttle launch and private companies undertaking their own launches, nations around the world will continue to establish and expand their own space programs, leaving American behind. In both a psychological and geo-political sense, the decision for the governement to abandon human spaceflight to private industry seems a rash and ill-advised. Giving NASA a new purpose is a worthy goal, one that should be pursued, but the way in which it is being done today puts the country at a disadvantage, rather than strengthening it and needs to be reconsidered.

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Last updated:  5/7/2010


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