gdi-2011-politics-master-file-mercury

Twenty one percent 21 disagree and nearly one third 32

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Unformatted text preview: e Institute 2011 140 Mercury Politics Mars Mission – Popular – Political Support Mars is the only mission that can generate political support Thompson, Lexington Institute Chief Financial Officer, 11 [Loren, April, Lexington Institute, “Human Spaceflight”, p. 1, http://www.lexingtoninstitute.org/library/resources/documents/Defense/HumanSpaceflight-Mars.pdf , accessed 6-2711] The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s human spaceflight program is one of the greatest scientific achievements in history. However, the program has been slowly dying since the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster 25 years ago. Faltering political support, failed technologies and competing claims on an under-funded federal budget have made it difficult to sustain a coherent program from administration to administration. The Obama Administration has offered a bold plan for nudging human spaceflight out of its decaying orbit, but the plan received only mixed support in Congress and looks unlikely to sustain political momentum over the long term. Although NASA consumes less than one-percent of the federal budget, it does not connect well with the current economic or social agendas of either major political party. The broad support for the human spaceflight program early in its history was traceable largely to the ideological rivalry between America and Russia that produced the Moon race. Today, no such external driver exists to sustain support of human spaceflight across the political spectrum. The program therefore must generate some intrinsic rationale -- some combination of high purpose and tangible benefit -- to secure funding. Recent efforts at generating a compelling rationale, such as the “flexible path” and “capabilities driven” approaches currently favored by the space agency, are inadequate. They do not resonate with the political culture. In the current fiscal and cultural environment, there is only one goal for the human spaceflight program that has a chance of capturing the popular imagination: Mars. The Red Planet is by far the most Earth-like object in the known universe beyond the Earth itself, with water, seasons, atmosphere and other features that potentially make it habitable one day by humans. In addition, its geological characteristics make it a potential treasure trove of insights into the nature of the solar system -insights directly relevant to what the future may hold for our own world. And Mars has one other key attraction: it is reachable. Unlike the hundreds of planets now being discovered orbiting distant stars, astronauts could actually reach Mars within the lifetime of a person living today, perhaps as soon as 20 years from now. This report makes the case for reorienting NASA’s human spaceflight program to focus on an early manned mission to Mars. It begins by briefly reviewing the history of the human spaceflight program and explaining why current visions of the program’s future are unlikely to attract sustained political support. It then describes the appeal of Mars as an ultimate destination, and the range of tangible benefits that human missions there could produce. It concludes by describing the budgetary resources and scientific tools needed to carry out such missions. The basic thesis of the report is that human missions to Mars can be accomplished within NASA’s currently projected budgets; that proposed missions to other...
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This note was uploaded on 01/14/2013 for the course POL 090 taught by Professor Framer during the Spring '13 term at Shimer.

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