This morning the Space Shuttle Atlantis landed with little fanfare at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida thus officially ending the Space Shuttle program which was launched thirty years ago.
I remember watching both the launch and the landing of the Space Shuttle Columbia in elementary school back in April 1981. In fact, I remember that the Columbia landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California at exactly 1:20 p.m. EST. I also happen to remember that day because it was my Dad’s 40th birthday. These events were duly recorded on our school’s state-of-the-art Betamax.
I also remember when Sally Ride became the first American woman in space the following year. In 1984, Marc Garneau became the first Canadian to travel in space. By 1986, we weren’t seeing Shuttle launches live anymore. It is probably just as well because I can’t imagine how I might have reacted had I seen Challenger explode on live television. Yet by the end of the 1980’s, the Shuttle program was back on track.
Of course, President Bush determined that the Shuttle program had run its course after Columbia disaster in February 2003. Yet Bush wasn’t planning to end of the space program. Bush wanted America back on the moon. But President Obama put the kibosh on those plans effectively ending America’s involvement in space.
Now one can certainly make an argument that funding NASA is costly to the American taxpayer. But innovations in space often have applications for both civilian and military use that are well worth the price paid. But new things can only be discovered once. Which means we won’t be the ones discovering them unless private funding can fill the breach. President Obama has effectively abdicated space technology and travel and the innovations which arise from it to China and Russia thereby increasing their prestige at the expense of our own. Needless to say, this isn’t the only area in which President Obama has abdicated American prestige.
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