To The Moon or Beyond?

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WASHINGTON-- In April 2010, President Obama is hosting a conference in Florida, in which he will describe his future plans for NASA and an eventual trip to Mars. Obama’s legislation, presently pending in Congress, intends to cancel the US program that is working to send astronauts to the moon. Moreover, Obama wants to change the intentions of NASA to researching and developing new technology that can assist in sending humans to non-lunar parts of space.

The United States has not sent astronauts to the moon since December 7, 1972. 38 years ago, NASA had very similar intentions as it does in the present—to explore the moon and then push towards other extraterrestrial bodies, such as Mars. Obama argues that it is necessary to develop new technology before continuing our exploration in space. As reported on foxnews.com, Obama’s plan is “ambitious” due to an increased budget for NASA (a gradual $6 billion increase) and a necessity of much time in order to research and develop this technology. It is argued in the New York Times that Obama’s plan will “help us travel from the Earth's cradle to our nearby Solar System neighborhood in a more effective and affordable way, thus laying the foundation to support journeys to the moon, asteroids, and eventually to Mars."

The exclusion of the nicknamed “Constellation Program” (moon exploration) in Obama’s budget has sparked debate throughout America. This is due to the lack of detail in Obama’s new plan, as well as the lack of deadlines of which research has to be completed by. The Wall Street Journal says that critics of the new budget, which include former astronauts, argue that without deadlines, US space exploration could be put off for decades. Conversely, the US has not successfully accomplished anything in terms of human space exploration since 1972, and according to The Wall Street Journal, NASA’s current plans are much too slow, ineffective, and expensive to continue pursuing. As stated on CNN.com, NASA administrator Charlie Bolden claims that this new budget will not prohibit moon exploration, although Obama’s plan clearly states that the current moon exploration program will not continue. It is assumed that NASA will find other ways to explore the moon, which could possibly be attained by transferring some of their power over to the private sector.
Although it is a necessity to continue space exploration in order to gain knowledge pertaining to the universe and possibly extraterrestrial life, at the moment, many government officials believe it is more important to improve the economy. As stated in The New York Times, the intentions of this plan are not only to improve technology, but also to increase jobs and industries, as there will be a necessity for both of these in order to produce this new technology. America will find out whether or not Congress will approver Obama’s budget in April, but until then, the debate pertaining to the budget will continue.





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