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Is the Space Program Spaced Out?

Yesterday, 50 top scientists met at Stanford University to discuss the future of the space program. The combination of academics and NASA advocates considered whether the plans to reach the Moon by 2020, build a long-term lunar base there, and eventually send humans to Mars were still in the best interest of the country.

The fact that we'll soon have a new administration that might have different priorities for space exploration was one of the motivations for the meeting. G. Scott Hubbard, a consulting professor in aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford, said “as a nation we cannot abandon human exploration to other countries, nor can we further consume the remaining science budget and relinquish our roles in Earth observation, solar system exploration and space astrophysics.”

What do you think? Should we bag the idea of sending people to Mars in favor of studying our own planet? Or is the space program a vital part of our international role in scientific advancement?


Join The Conversation
i-heart-monster i-heart-monster 9 years
Oh SillyGirl - that's a wonderful idea! Privatize away, I say! I say stop the national funding and reallocate some of the funds to saving this planet - there may not be another viable option out there - chances are that there is - but when will we find it? When we can't reproduce because of all of the toxic chemicals in our soil have made us barren? We're talking lightyears people - that means the amount of distance it takes a packet of light over the period of one of our years - ummm... forever away... Seriously. Save Our Earth. First.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I lost all hope when i saw Lance Bass training to become an astronaut.
lcterp lcterp 9 years
I would probably also support privatizing the space program or at least scale back our own program temporarily. There are so many other more pressing issues that are affecting us now that we could put those scientists and resources to use figuring out. We need to find new alternative energy sources and discover just how poor a state our planet is in. I think figuring out how to less stress our planet is more productive then sending a person to Mars where nothing is happening.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
Hmmmm are people actually suggesting that the private sector might be able to handle something than the federal government? Ponderous!
sugajen sugajen 9 years
also to Bethany, money's not an issue. the U.S. is already severely in debt so whats a few more billion. collaboration between Russia and other countries would be in our best interests anyway
sugajen sugajen 9 years
W wants keep dicking around on the moon just to distract us from what he's really doing. I feel bad for the people at NASA who haven't had a challenge in decades. On to Mars!
legalbeagle legalbeagle 9 years
I like Sillygirl's idea of handing over the space program to private industry... seriously... billions of dollars of taxpayer money are being spent on the space program so i can have some to read in the 'odd news' section of the Metro.... wow, rocks on mars actually, maybe if the u.s. gets there early enough and discovers some oil it would be worth it... we could ruin a whole other planet! think of the possibilities!
tiabia tiabia 9 years
When I was an intern at NASA, the Presidents big idea of "Sending Man back to the Moon" was definitely NOT the most important purpose of the agency, and it definitely garnered a few groans and eye-rolls at the next morning Staff meeting.
janneth janneth 9 years
Yes to the space program. Yes to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand.
taterstagg taterstagg 9 years
Flinging almost thirty year old unreliable space craft skywards does not seem to be a wise use of funding. What do we have to show for it pens that can write upside down and horrible astronaut ice cream?
mguy414 mguy414 9 years
I think we should continuing exploring space and learning new things, but as far as going back to the Moon and living on Mars? No, I think that's pointless. I am fascinated by space, I love watching the Science channel and the Planet show that is on the History Channel, but I don't desire to move to Mars. And this endless search for a planet exactly like Earth seems kind of pointless, what will it prove? On a slightly unrelated note- my biggest desire is to sit and talk to a Big Bang theorist and see how they rationalize it. A friend and work and I have discussed the numerous ways to disprove this theory, besides the most obvious ones.
annebreal annebreal 9 years
Just thinking of all the people who would lose their jobs or valuable contracts, keep it running. There's always going to be something new to discover.
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 9 years
Yes to space!
mandatedfun mandatedfun 9 years
of course we should continue to explore space!
bethany21 bethany21 9 years
There's something very inspiring about people transversing space, but it just seems silly to put money and resources there when a) we have so many problems we need to fix here on Earth and b) we know so little about our own oceans!
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i think that it's important to continue with the space program. think about all the leaps and bounds that have been made over the past decades. with the way that the earth is changing and the way that the population is growing, we'll need to look at alternatives eventually. learning about other planets and getting to them to explore will only tell us more about what's out there and about evolution. think about all the discoveries that could be made - what if there were cures to diseases on other planets? you just never know.
SillyGirl SillyGirl 9 years
My suggestion: Privatize the space program! There are plenty of people willing to take the risk (both their lives and their money) to get up into space. It would probably me a more efficient program anyways.
Bettyesque Bettyesque 9 years
Im for science in every sense, but realistically we have "bigger fish to fry" I cant help but think that the money spent on this could be used for I dont know WORLD HUNGER.
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