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The Flag of the World

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.

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Thursday, January 08, 2004

 

America needs a frontier
Next week Bush will apparently announce plans to both put a man on Mars and establish a permanent presence on the Moon. This excites me immsensely, and I very much hope that they both happen.

It's going to kick off a fair amount of debate between four camps, as I count them. On one hand, you have people like the President and myself, who want to see people on Mars, and who want to see a permanent base on the moon--not necessarily for any tangible benifits but simply because we can--and because America needs a frontier.

Then, you've got people like John Glenn, mentioned in the Fox News article linked above. He thinks we need to finish the International Space Station first. This is silly. The International Space Station is a very nice toy, but it hardly captures the imagination like either of Bush's rumored proposals do, and therefore is not worth the hassle in comparison. I'm distrustful of multinational projects like this on principle, though.

Then, you've got the pro-robot contingency, like this guy, who belives that humans should stay out of space, as they always produce "the fewest results, the least important science." As far as I'm concerned, putting humans into space is a result, and science takes a backseat to the far less rational desire to go.

Last, you'll have the anti-space people, who think we should be spending all this money on something else. I think that inspiring people is a fine thing to spend money on, and anything that sets us up better for moon colonies has pontential to do real and actual good.

But honestly, I'm not as concerned with the tangible benifits here as I am with the intangible ones--America needs a frontier in order to function as America, and space, as the saying goes, is the final frontier.

UPDATE: The Washington Times has a good deal more about this, including the news that the shuttle fleet is to be scrapped (not literally, I assume) to help pay for the new program, and Bush has asked that NASA scale back or scrap all programs unrelated to this goal--I find this to be very, very good news. Spaceblogger Rand Simberg is skeptical, wanting a prominent role for private industry in this. My thought is, why not a space race between private individuals and the government, along the lines of the Human Genome Project? Unlike Rand, I am excited. I will get to see a man on the Moon, even a man on Mars, in my lifetime, God willing. I am very, very excited.
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