The end of the ‘space race’?


Are we done with space exploration?

Discover blog reports on rumors that the Obama administration is cutting funding for two rocket systems, eliminating any possibility of going to the moon again, as a step toward an eventual mission to Mars.

This is in addition to the end of the Shuttle program, which has forced American astronauts to hitch rides to the International Space Station from Russia.

Says the Discover blog:

And finally, space exploration is important. I find it difficult to believe Obama doesn’t know that; he’s proven himself to be both pro-science and understanding of the inspiration it provides. And the rumor is that this year’s budget for NASA actually goes up a little bit, it just cuts Constellation and Ares. But if this really does gut NASA’s future, cutting way back on what they can do, then it’s a mistake.

Is it important? For clues, we might look to the United States’ fastest gaining global competitors. India today announced its first manned space mission. It also plans a mission to Mars in 2030.

Maybe, that’s not “our thing” anymore because of the sacrifice that exploring deeper space would take. “We estimated our odds (then) of not coming back at 1-in-70. Those are not very good odds,” former astronaut John Grunsfeld of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore tells “It only gets worse as you go further out.”