Reaching for the moon no more 1

It is not difficult to see what Obama likes and does not like, wants and does not want, and what is the general thrust of his world-view and political agenda.

He likes climate change. It’s an ideal cause for the far left, because if only people can be hoodwinked into believing that it constitutes a threat to all life on the planet, government can claim that it must be dealt with by forcing us to change the way we live. Dealing with it can hugely tighten government control – not just by the US government but by some global uber-body that can enforce subjection world-wide.

He likes Islam. There’s a pile of evidence for this: his Cairo speech, his bowing to the “king” of Saudi Arabia, his reluctance to interfere with Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, his reaching out to Syria … the full list would be long.

He does not like American military superiority, or American exceptionalism in any form, including its superiority in space exploration (with its potential for enhancing military power).

On January 27, 2010, the Orlando Sentinel reported that:

NASA’s plans to return astronauts to the moon are dead. So are the rockets being designed to take them there — that is, if President Barack Obama gets his way.

When the White House releases his budget proposal Monday, there will be no money for the Constellation program that was supposed to return humans to the moon by 2020. The troubled and expensive Ares I rocket that was to replace the space shuttle to ferry humans to space will be gone, along with money for its bigger brother, the Ares V cargo rocket that was to launch the fuel and supplies needed to take humans back to the moon.

There will be no lunar landers, no moon bases, no Constellation program at all.

The White House will direct NASA to concentrate on Earth-science projects — principally, researching and monitoring climate change — and on a new technology research and development program that will one day make human exploration of asteroids and the inner solar system possible. …

The White House budget request, which is certain to meet fierce resistance in Congress, scraps the Bush administration’s Vision for Space Exploration and signals a major reorientation of NASA, especially in the area of human spaceflight.

“We certainly don’t need to go back to the moon,” said one administration official.

Everyone interviewed for this article spoke on condition of anonymity, either because they are not authorized to talk for the White House or because they fear for their jobs.

But Indonesia and other Muslim countries will be getting US help with launching rockets?

On February 16, 2010, the same paper reported that:

Barack Obama has asked NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden to “find ways to reach out to dominantly Muslim countries” as the White House pushes the space agency to become a tool of international diplomacy.

Specifically, he talked about connecting with countries that do not have an established space program and helping them conduct science missions. He mentioned new opportunities with Indonesia, including an educational program that examines global climate change.

“We really like Indonesia because the State Department, the Department of Education [and] other agencies in the U.S. are reaching out to Indonesia as the largest Muslim nation in the world. We would love to establish partners there,” Bolden said.

Shutting the new frontier 4

The most innovative nation in all the world and all history is the United States of America. One of its greatest characteristics – the product of its liberty – has long been its driving energy to look forward and upward, to reach new heights, to achieve ever more and better understanding of our universe. In nothing was this vision proved so spectacularly as in the exploration of space, the landing of men on the moon, the search with ingeniously devised spacecraft, loaded with technological marvels, ever further through the galaxy.

The leftists now in control don’t like it.

Charles Krauthammer writes:

Within months, Russia will have a monopoly on rides into space.

By the end of this year, there will be no shuttle, no U.S. manned space program, no way for us to get into space. We’re not talking about Mars or the moon here. We’re talking about low-Earth orbit, which the U.S. has dominated for nearly half a century and from which it is now retiring with nary a whimper.

Our absence from low-Earth orbit was meant to last a few years, the interval between the retirement of the fatally fragile space shuttle and its replacement with the Constellation program (Ares booster, Orion capsule, Altair lunar lander) to take astronauts more cheaply and safely back to space.

But the Obama 2011 budget kills Constellation. Instead, we shall have nothing. For the first time since John Glenn flew in 1962, the U.S. will have no access of its own for humans into space — and no prospect of getting there in the foreseeable future.

Of course, the administration presents the abdication as a great leap forward: Launching humans will now be turned over to the private sector, while NASA’s efforts will be directed toward landing on Mars.

This is nonsense. It would be swell for private companies to take over launching astronauts. But they cannot do it. It’s too expensive. It’s too experimental. And the safety standards for actually getting people up and down reliably are just unreachably high.

Sure, decades from now there will be a robust private space-travel industry. But that is a long time. In the interim, space will be owned by Russia and then China. The president waxes seriously nationalist at the thought of China or India surpassing us in speculative “clean energy.” Yet he is quite prepared to gratuitously give up our spectacular lead in human space exploration.

As for Mars, more nonsense. Mars is just too far away. And how do you get there without the stepping stones of Ares and Orion? If we can’t afford an Ares rocket to get us into orbit and to the moon, how long will it take to develop a revolutionary new propulsion system that will take us not a quarter-million miles but 35 million miles?

Of course, the whole Mars project as substitute for the moon is simply a ruse. It’s like the classic bait-and-switch for high-tech military spending: Kill the doable in the name of some distant sophisticated alternative, which either never gets developed or is simply killed later in the name of yet another, even more sophisticated alternative of the further future. …

Moreover, there is the question of seriousness. When John F. Kennedy pledged to go to the moon, he meant it. He had an intense personal commitment to the enterprise. He delivered speeches remembered to this day. He dedicated astronomical sums to make it happen.

At the peak of the Apollo program, NASA was consuming almost 4 percent of the federal budget, which in terms of the 2011 budget is about $150 billion. Today the manned space program will die for want of $3 billion a year — 1/300th of last year’s stimulus package with its endless make-work projects that will leave not a trace on the national consciousness.

As for President Obama’s commitment to beyond-lunar space: Has he given a single speech, devoted an iota of political capital to it?

Obama’s NASA budget perfectly captures the difference in spirit between Kennedy’s liberalism and Obama’s. Kennedy’s was an expansive, bold, outward-looking summons. Obama’s is a constricted inward-looking call to retreat.

Fifty years ago, Kennedy opened the New Frontier. Obama has just shut it.