Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Space Exploration: Why don't our leaders care?

What interesting discoveries await us among the stars? We may never know...

As a fan of science fiction of all sorts, I can say that we currently live in an incredibly disappointing era in terms of space exploration. Obama keeps cutting funding for NASA, instead relegating its former resources to private corporations. That's great, and I am sure the private sector will do wonderful things in space, but let's be real. Huge initiatives like space exploration require something greater than a corporation or two to fuel its growth. It requires governments, and shared resources on a massive, global scale.

Case in point, the Apollo program that got America to the moon took up a huge percentage of our national budget. And that was just getting to the moon. Getting to Mars and beyond will require an even greater commitment. That can't occur if our forays into space are being led by corporate entrepreneurs who, no offense, lack the resources and vision to do something of this magnitude.

While I am no flaming liberal, I don't trust corporations at all when it comes to recognizing the bigger picture. For instance, companies like AT&T literally laughed at the idea that something like the internet could be a possibility, saying it couldn't be done. Luckily for us all, the people behind the internet turned to the government for help, and they were able to get it off the ground.

That is all I am suggesting. We need the government to care enough about space exploration to get it up and running. We need them to provide us with some sort of infrastructure in space by which, after it is established, corporations can work their magic. We can't rely on corporations to do something like that right off the bat; they are profit based organizations after all and I doubt creating some kind of intricate and organized space infrastructure will be very profitable for them in the short run.

Knowing this, it saddens me that our leaders show absolutely no initiative when it comes to supporting NASA and space exploration. Indeed, I don't think any US President has cared much about our space program since the cold war ended. It's a shame really. So much potential lies out there, so many untapped resources, things to discover, scientific breakthroughs to uncover. It is a vast, exciting frontier out there that nobody with power seems to be interested in exploring.

Unfortunately for us, nobody with the kind of vision and charisma that would be required to lead humanity into space seems to exist at this point in time. Our leaders are too bogged down by worldly problems to see the big picture. They lack the foresight to see the benefits an exploration initiative would have, not only for the morale of the human race as a whole but for its potential economic and scientific value.

Maybe I've been jaded by too much science fiction, and maybe none of this really matters. Maybe humanity was meant to be constrained to one planet for all eternity. If so, we've wasted our own potential.

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