Lost Moon: The future of U.S. Manned Spaceflight
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, more commonly known as NASA, was founded in the midst of war. During the infamous Cold War, two global superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, competed for dominance over the other. No such area of competition was as fierce as outer space. Success in the 1960’s was determined largely through technological advances, and manned spaceflight was viewed as the pinnacle of technological and political superiority. Finally, in 1969, NASA landed Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin on the lunar surface. In 1972, after six lunar landings, Congress decided that NASA needed a budget cut. Before long, however, the U.S. was back in space aboard the space shuttle. The shuttle was reusable and promised low operating costs, high turnaround times, and frequent launches. Having served NASA diligently for thirty years, the shuttle fleet was retired from service in 2011. Since then, NASA has struggled to determine its next step. Eager to cut spending wherever possible, Washington has proposed the privatization of U.S. manned spaceflight, and still has not directed NASA on exactly what it should be focused on doing next. Even though manned spaceflight does cost money, the costs are insignificant in regards to the numerous benefits that are gained from a government-funded manned program.
The end of the shuttle program in 2011 began a period of uncertainty within NASA. Since a 2004 address by President George W. Bush, it had been under the impression that after the shuttle’s retirement, funds and research would be put in to return to the moon by 2020 and then proceed on to other destinations, most notably, Mars (Logsdon). The effort became known as Project Constellation. In 2009, however, a review board known as the Augustine Committee calculated that the Constellation program could not be executed without substantial increases in funding. President Barack Obama then...
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