Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Main Gear Touchdown

I love the manned spaceflight program of the United States. I remember very well the Mercury 7 astronauts. There was a time when I could tell you all of their names and the names of the spacecraft they flew. Eventually, I couldn't keep up any longer. NASA added more and more astronauts and spacecraft.

Then along came the glider that we know as the space shuttle. Challenger and Columbia have narrowed the number of usable shuttles and someone somewhere thinks the shuttle program has outlived its usefulness and is to be retired.

Something else will come along to take its place; however, I don't know what or when. Obama is cutting funds to NASA and still talking out the side of his mouth saying that we need to go farther into space and visit other planets. Surely he knows you can't do that without money.

There is a very valid argument that the entire space program should be cut off from the funding machine. I certainly see that side of the argument. Spending is out of control in Washington and because of that our world and the world of our great-grandchildren may never be the same.

On the other hand if there is a chance to further medical science to help save lives, or to gain knowledge in other areas, should we not at least attempt to learn what can be learned?

If the choice were mine, I would rather see funding for science over bailing out a failing badly managed business. The federal government isn't supposed to own businesses anyway. Individuals through the system of free-enterprise are supposed to do that.

Shuttle Discovery landed early this morning in Florida after just over two weeks in space. And I was watching. There are only a few shuttle flights remaining in the program, and I hope to watch all of them. I also hope to watch whatever comes next. I still have a healthy respect for America's NASA astronauts. They are some of the best and brightest military pilots, engineers and scientists our nation produces.

Maybe instead of trimming the space program, we could just trim the bureaucracy that surrounds them. Wonder why nobody has thought of trying that?

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