No More Moon? Maybe. - MyMoon

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NO MORE MOON? MAYBE.

I must preface this blog entry by reminding readers that I am not an engineer. I am not a politician. I do not pretend to know what is going on in the head of the President. I just have thoughts and opinions. And away we go.

A few days ago, the Orlando Sentinel printed an article regarding the President's budget request for the 2011 fiscal year. The article specifically addressed the proposed budget for NASA. This information, they claim, came from White House, NASA, and space industry insiders who wished to remain anonymous. Go figure. This article has caused quite a ruckus within the space community and the political figures who represent the industry. Why all the commotion? The budget request essentially ends the Constellation program, the program meant to return astronauts to the Moon and later, to Mars. While the budget gives NASA a generous boost in funding (while other programs are being cut completely), it's not enough to continue development of the Constellation program.

I have now had a few days to digest what appears to be the budget request that the President will send to Congress on February 1. I will admit that at first, I was taken aback, maybe even a little shocked. After all, I support the idea of sending astronauts back to the Moon. For a few hours, I was even a little angry. But then I remembered something from the article that got me thinking. The article cited an administration official who said that the budget sends a message reflecting the views of the President: it's time members of Congress recognize that NASA can't design space programs to create jobs in their districts. At first, this statement did not make any sense to me. Is it not part of the job as a member of Congress to help create jobs for the people you represent? Pondering that statement a bit more I wondered, maybe there is a message within the message. Perhaps the President does support a human lunar exploration program; maybe he's just not convinced Constellation is really on track. I don't know that I am convinced.

Keeping up with the Constellation program can be frustrating. Take the Ares 1 rocket for example. I have read articles and blog posts describing the Ares 1 as the best rocket for the Constellation program. I have read others saying it's not the best rocket. It's not safe. It has design flaws. There a better alternatives. Like I stated earlier, I am not an engineer. I don't know who to believe. The President may be having the same problem. Maybe the message within his message to Congress (and NASA) is simply this: convince me. Otherwise, we are going a different route.

It is important to remember that this budget request is just that; a request. It has to be approved by Congress. This will be met with great resistance from Congressional delegates representing Texas, Alabama and Florida. The debate is just beginning. Stay tuned. It should be an interesting one.

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