Chair Force Engineer

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Mars Money?

The Associated Press ran two recent stories; the first described an effort in Congress to defund "the Mars mission," while the more recent piece talked about how "the Mars mission" survived the House vote. Once again, the mainstream media isn't being straight with the American people, and they're demonstrating their ignorance of the space program.

In the real world, we are faced with a NASA that has its sights set on the moon, in hopes that moon missions will enable a Mars mission after 2030. This is a very questionable proposition when one considers the two-year turnover in the House, four year turnover in the White House, and six-year turnover in the Senate.

In the media world, manned spaceflight is a waste of money that can be spent on social programs, and flights beyond earth orbit are the stuff of science fiction that can't be taken seriously. The mainstream media always talks about the Vision For Space Exploration as a program to put a man on Mars. Whenever I see the media mention "the Mars mission," I usually infer a subtext of scorn and cynical amusement.

The NASA buidget that was voted on yesterday wasn't about Mars at all. For that matter, it wasn't about the moon, either. The money in question will go towards developing the CEV and CLV. If Congress wants to preserve a manned space capability (if for no other reason than national prestige,) it will have to spend the money on the CEV+CLV stack. If future Congresses want to see humans back on the moon, they will have to approve even more development funds for the CaLV, EDS, and LSAM. If there is to be a Mars mission in the period beyond 2030, even more money will need to be spent, most likely on Mars landers and nuclear propulsion stages.