Weve had some fun with space policy in the 2012 presidential race. Saturday Night Live, the Daily Show, candidate debates, and other forms of low comedy had us all laughing at Newt Gingrichs proposal for moon statehood. Ron Paul said, I think we should send some politicians up there. So it would be a blue state, and there goes Republican control of the Senate. Mitt Romney said, If I had a business executive come to me and say they wanted to spend a few hundred billion dollars to put a colony on the moon, Id say, Youre fired. Ha, ha. A president, a Congress, and a number of wives have tried to fire Newt, and hes still on the job.|
But fun with space policy is about all weve had. Space is not an issue in this election. There are good reasons it should be. NASA is cheap. Its budget is $17.7 billion, one-fourth the budget for the Department of Education, which ought toconsidering the state of public schools, where none of the kids can do this mathgive its money to NASA.
National prestige is important, even if our current president doesnt know it. China is trying to become America without democracy while America is trying to become France without cheese calories.
Weve gained technological advantages from our space program, and not just Tang and Teflon but satellite radio for listening to Howard Stern, GPS telling Mitt Romney how to get to Washington without going by way of the moon, the foam that protects skulls in football helmets and keeps my little linebacker from becoming any dumber than 8-year-olds already are, the cordless drill to facilitate household DIY projects, and the scratchproof sunglasses my wife wears to conceal eye-rolling at the way the bookshelves tilt. The hang glider, that California fool-killer, owes its para-wing to NASA research on returning payloads to Earth. Then theres hazardous gas sensors, filtration devices for kidney dialysis, flame-resistant clothing for firemen, and the Hubble telescope. The Hubbles imaging problems turned out to be the same problems doctors had looking for tumors in mammograms. Someone you love is alive today, not because of a NASA success, but because of a NASA failurea design flaw in the Hubble telescope.
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