“The bottom line is, nobody is more committed to manned spaceflight, to human exploration of space than I am,” he said in a speech to about 200 attendees of a White House-sponsored space conference here.Arrogance. I wonder how Obama can be so sure that nobody is more committed to manned spaceflight than he is? By what calculation does he arrive at this conclusion?
Obama is not a full-time space entrepreneur. He is not a part-time space enthusiast. He has not donated any of his private wealth to realizing new frontiers in space. He does not make "space jokes" in his other policy speeches and he has never been caught, in a moment of recreation at the White House, running around the place with a toy Space Shuttle in his hands making a loud "WHOOOOOOOOOSH!"-ing sound.
So, by what calculation, by what reasoning, does Obama arrive at his belief that he is the most committed to spaceflight?
It seems this claim is based solely off of the extent to which he is willing to direct Other People's (Tax) Money to national space research.
But he was unwavering in insisting that NASA must change in sending people into space. “We’ve got to do it in a smart way,” Mr. Obama said, “and we can’t just keep on doing the same old things we’ve been doing and thinking that’s going to get us where we want to go.”Omniscience. Obama seems to be a change-fetishist. So enamored with his campaign brand-image is he that he makes these meaningless paeans to even more meaningless change everywhere he goes.
Let's be clear-- I am not defending the current space program here. The best publicly-funded space program I can conceive of is the one that simply does not exist. Given that there is a space program, however, and given that it has been nominally "successful" in getting things and people into parts of space (you can't really say anything more than that as far as the space program's success goes), what is it according to Obama that is so unintelligent and unworkable?
And where is it that "we want to go"? And is that different from where "we" need to go, or must go?
Again, I ask, what calculations is Obama using to make all these grand judgments and abrupt pronouncements about how unspecific goals are most efficiently achieved?
Instead of earlier vague assurances by Charles F. Bolden Jr., the NASA administrator, and other administration officials that NASA would eventually venture beyond Earth orbit, Mr. Obama gave dates and destinations for astronauts. But the goals would be achieved long after he leaves office: a visit to an asteroid after 2025, reaching Mars by the mid-2030s.Can-kickery.
Sure, a capital-intensive project like space exploration requires a lot of time and planning. In that sense, Obama has no other option but to lay a plan now that won't hatch until he's long-since gone.
Does that make this announcement any less of a publicity-garnering fraud?
Ask yourself this-- what are the chances the US Federal Government will still be solvent and able to fund an asteroid visit in 2025, or a Mars expedition in the mid-2030s?
Doesn't matter. It's someone else's political problem now. Obama can take the credit for being the unmatched space-lover now and it'll be up to some future politician to face the wrath of his constituency later for possibly nuking said program in a vain attempt to balance the by-then 400-lb-5-ft-tall-one-legged fat person of a federal budget.
“Step by step, we will push the boundaries not only of where we can go but what we can do,” Mr. Obama said. “In short, 50 years after the creation of NASA, our goal is no longer just a destination to reach. Our goal is the capacity for people to work and learn, operate and live safely beyond the Earth for extended periods of time.”Inexplicability. Why is the goal for humans to be able to "work [on what?] and learn [about what?], operate [what?] and live [how? in what manner, with what level of comfort and safety?] beyond the Earth [how far beyond?] for extended periods of time [how long, specifically?]"?
Why is this a better goal than landing a dog on Uranus?
Who is coming up with this stuff?
Mr. Obama noted that President John F. Kennedy challenged Americans to land on the Moon in 1961 — the year the current president was born. But the plan Mr. Obama laid out for now through the 2030s was unlike the Kennedy vision: It was a call for private industry to innovate its way to Mars, rather than a call for a national effort to demonstrate American predominance.Fascism. And not just any old kind of fascism... SPACE FASCISM! It's the kind of fascism that is out of this world, man!
Seriously, the only thing sillier than federal weapons platforms in space (Reagan's Star Wars) has got to be the spreading of fascism beyond the earth's exosphere.
People, this is progress-- when loopy comic book-caliber sci-fi ideas become reality. Check it out!
On a more serious note, though, it seems odd to begin a private effort to put someone on Mars by starting with a call to do so from a national figure-head. It seems like such an effort will be anything but private and national in all-but name when this will be a program whose private contractors are funded by the national government. It will likely be run along the lines of military weapons systems contracting, that is to say, it'll be expensive, inefficient, massively corrupt, ethically suspect and at the end of the day, arbitrary. Arbitrary as all political decision-making must be.
Or does Obama have a secret calculation model for this, too?
Strikingly, Mr. Obama used the speech to blame his predecessors for lacking leadership on space policy and the critics of his own plan for failing to recognize that times have changed. NASA’s budgets, he noted, have “risen and fallen with the political winds.” That appeared to be a shot at President George W. Bush, who announced a new plan for NASA after the Columbia disaster and barely mentioned space policy again for the rest of his presidency. And he argued that turning to private entrepreneurs would result in more space flights and more astronauts in orbit than the space plan he inherited.Confusingly hypocritical and predictably non-striking.
Let's think about this for a second: on the one hand, Bush is being criticized for allowing NASA's budget to rise and fall with the political winds; on the other hand, Obama, the new political wind in town, is stirring up the leaves of the NASA budget to his own liking.
Try another: one the one hand, Obama is claiming the private sector is more efficient at putting spacecraft and astronauts into orbit than the public sector; on the other hand, Obama IS the public sector, and relishes his role as such.
And one more, for the future: on the one hand, Bush didn't care about the space program during his presidency outside of a token policy-speech following a space shuttle calamity; on the other hand, Obama will likely not revisit this topic himself during the remainder of his presidency, and will be lucky if he doesn't get his very own space shuttle disaster.
At this point, we ought to just face the facts-- under Obama, yet another previously entrepreneurial, free-spirited hobbyist-driven industry (private space exploration) is going to be co-opted into the over-stimulated Bubbleville economy of Planet USSA. It'll be done in the name of progress, children and Mother Necessity and it will ensure that freedom-loving individuals looking for some place where they can take a gasp of fresh air will have literally nowhere to run, not even outer space.
It will, in short, mean an existence that is increasingly arbitrary, insane and nepotistic in a world of "calculated" dictatorial privilege and favor. It will be much like Space Balls, though not even a sixteenth as funny.