NASA Space Exploration Constellation Program Moon Mars Mars Cycler Moon Landing

That’s One Giant Leapfrog For Mankind

President Obama’s budget shows plans to leapfrog the moon, putting an end to the Constellation programme.  Many believe that the money should be pushed back into research that might yet help to save our planet.  But what if we’re too late for that?  Perhaps looking to colonise the moon might not be such a bad idea after all.

Buzz Aldrin, perhaps now the most famous and outspoken of moon walkers and himself a promoter for Mars being mankind’s next important destination, has said, “I wish to endorse strongly the President’s new direction for NASA” as quoted on his website.  Aldrin has worked for many years developing his Mars Cycler ideas for exploring and colonising the red planet.

I for one, named as I was after Buzz Aldrin and indeed Neil Armstrong, was very sad to hear such a turn around since George W Bush’s 2004 promises of again putting mankind on the moon.  The opportunity for me to stand where my namesakes stood back in July 1969 is slipping away year by year.  But when I reluctantly put my personal desires aside and take a look at the bigger picture of mankind’s survival and perpetuation, I have to question which direction is best and where the money would really be best spent.

Are we beyond the point of no return as far as our planet is concerned?  We don’t know that.  But if the question even has to be asked, and it is worrying scientists, world leaders and the general population alike, then surely the choice is pretty clear for the moment.  Push at least the lion’s share of the money toward finding solutions here, rather than looking many years ahead at a space exploration or colonisation programme that could be many decades away.

By all means hedge our bets and aim some of it at the latter, with a view to forward planning for what we might do should our planet’s days indeed be numbered and our efforts to save it fail, but for now, make sure the focus is on the immediate dangers.

Far from cutting back on actual dollar for dollar spending, the budget is actually proposed to increase for NASA, but the small print dictates that it be spent on science and research first rather than on manned space exploration.  It is also, it seems, aimed at opening the door wider for private enterprise to work its money seeking magic on the space programme.

Imagine what private funding would do for finding alternative and above all cheaper methods of putting payloads into orbit and shuttling personnel or well paying sight seers to and from space, or even the moon.  What riches lie in store for those first entrepreneurs brave enough to settle our nearest neighbour?  Let’s face it; private enterprise is the only thing which is going to fully re-ignite the space exploration programme on a timescale that is beneficial right now.

So, all in all, despite the inevitable hard times for those employed in the current space programme while it transforms and mutates toward a probably much more promising outlook through healthy competition and endeavour, perhaps Mr Obama’s budget is indeed the best way forward…for all mankind.