Obama Administration: Lost in Space

by Jason Killian Meath

Astronauts are stranded on the space station. America’s once-mighty Space Shuttle fleet has been disassembled and mothballed with nothing to replace it. The Russians, once the inferior player in the space race, is the only hope left to rescue the stranded astronauts. No, this isn’t the treatment to a B-list summer movie — it is playing out before our eyes.

It never had to be this way. When historians look back on the American space program over the past 5 years, they are bound to scratch their heads and wonder, “what on Earth happened?” Where were our bold strokes of genius that propelled us to the Moon, created a fleet of shuttles that were the workhorses of space — where was the leadership that ensured America’s technological dominance in the world? Why did we throw in the towel?

With President Obama allowing the Space Shuttle program to die and laying off thousands who worked lifetimes solidifying its success, we had to turn to our old rivals – the Russians. This week, the Russians launched a Soyuz rocket filled with supplies bound for the space station. The rocket exploded scattering smoldering debris for miles. The Soyuz is the world’s last chance to travel into space. Yes, a rocket designed in 1966 is our last modern operating manned space vehicle. Pathetic.

It was President George W. Bush that realized the shuttles had run their course, and he set a date to replace the program. Instead of the low-orbiting shuttle, America would build the world’s largest and most powerful rocket to return to the Moon, build a base there to launch more ambitious missions — go to Mars, where the presence of ice indicates the ingredients of alien life. But, when Atlantis rolled to a stop at Kennedy Space Center, we had no way forward. Obama cancelled the Bush plan, and no one was quite sure where we were headed. The only certainty is that we would layoff over 4,000 unique and highly trained American space experts – in both the public and private sector.

America’s space program is a metaphor for much of what ails the nation, the President left us listless and adrift with no plan to move forward.

Meanwhile, China, India and other advancing nations are in a space race. A race that we seem content to watch as a bystander – the way the rest of the world did as Neil Armstrong planted the American flag on the Moon in 1969. Will our children post YouTube clips of the Chinese flag being hoisted on some distant world? Ironically, many of the thousands of laid-off American space workers, may help China get there. Foremost in their fields, these fiercely proud and patriotic American workers will perhaps seek jobs overseas — they are left with no choice.

In May, Fox’s Neil Cavuto remarked, “everyone but us seems to want in on space.” And rightly so. The economic benefits are bountiful. The space race brought us advances in computers, engineering, science and technology — royalties America has been cashing at the bank for decades. But like the saying goes, you only win if you play.

Further clouding matters are remarks from the White House urging the private sector to take over space exploration. While that is an exciting thought, it’s a little like handing your 16 year old the keys to the Lamborghini. They aren’t quite ready and its doubtful they can afford the insurance. Besides, every President since Eisenhower has understood the high stakes and global reverberations of leadership — and dominance — in space. So, now we’re suddenly okay with kicking all that to the curb? Imagine the message – and the pictures – sent to the world if that last shuttle were to have landed and rolled to a stop in front of what’s next? A rocket slated for Mars — a Spielberg-esque looking space plane — anything would have been better than the commentators droning on about ‘the last’ this and ‘the end’ of that.

In 2011, the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s famous speech that put America on the Moon and atop the world, we have fallen miserably to the ground. Will America abdicate its role in leading the technological advances that propel us ahead of other nations? Gene Ceran, the last man to walk on the Moon recently summed it up, “There are a few of us old fogies who have called Mr. Obama’s space program a mission to nowhere. When the last shuttle lands, where are we going to go? What is our mission?”

Just ask the stranded astronauts on the space station. That is, if they aren’t busy enough abandoning ship. Houston, we have a problem.

Credit: Jason Killian Meath, Big Government






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