Returning to the Moon
There were two great betrayals of NASA that resulted in the tragic loss of scientific discovery and exploration.
Only one president, Donald Trump, righted the betrayals by getting NASA back on track.
Richard Nixon was the first great betrayal when he killed the Apollo program. He never saw the advantage of space exploration the way John F. Kennedy did, but he could not completely kill the popular program altogether, the way Obama did later. He settled for shuttles, which was important for research, but should have kept Apollo going.
It was not just the moon NASA had plans for. They were going to use the data gained from Apollo to reach Mars sometime in the 1980s.
Not only did Nixon propose a premature end to exploratory flights to the Moon; he was not willing to take the next step, setting out on a path leading to Mars. NASA had proposed to the White House in September 1969 that post-Apollo space activities be focused on preparing for human missions to Mars at some point in the 1980s. Nixon and his associates decisively rejected that proposal as they cut the NASA budget in the months following the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 successes.
All that treasure put into Apollo was wasted and future discovery lost because Nixon lacked the foresight.
Obama was the second great betrayal when he killed the shuttle. We were left paying the Russian government, including Putin, a hefty price by hitching rides onto Russian rockets. The people calling Putin every name in the book today had not one negative word about him then.
Previously, the agency planned to replace the shuttle program with a new one aimed at returning astronauts to the moon. But Obama canceled that plan and gave NASA a new directive for deep space exploration, including a crewed asteroid mission by 2025.
Without a means to leave Earth, how did Obama expect NASA to send American astronauts anywhere? It was not as though the Russians were developing that kind of advanced rocketry. Obama helped to enrich Putin even more at great cost to American advancement in space.
You cannot take away the means of travel and expect travel. It was an even greater betrayal than Nixon. At least Nixon continued NASA flying American astronauts into space, something Obama did not seem to care about.
Had we continued the trajectory of space NASA had laid out to Nixon, we would have colonized the moon, and Mars, and would most likely have cloud cities on Venus, which is an actual plan from NASA that is feasible. Our knowledge of the universe would have been far greater than it is now.
There were several things about Trump's presidency I did not care for, but I give credit where it is due.
Without Trump, we would not be getting ready to send Artemis I to the moon in the near future.
It was Trump's vision that put NASA back on track. He is owed a great debt of gratitude for having the foresight far too many do not possess, especially when it comes to space.
The original plan was for NASA to take its time. Since they were used to dealing with space stations, they wanted to build a station around the moon, before having anyone set foot on the surface. Neither Trump nor Pence had any interest in slowing down putting boots on the surface.
From Space News:
Vice President Mike Pence directed NASA to return humans to the surface of the moon by 2024, a dramatic acceleration of the agency's human space exploration plans but a directive accompanied by few technical or fiscal details.
Had it not been for the acceleration orders by Pence, whose job as vice president was running NASA, there would still be talk of a space station on the moon without getting to the moon. NASA had become complacent with the existing stations.
Due to expected delays in a program like Artemis, NASA is not looking two years down the road to put Americans back on the moon, but three.
As NASA makes its first step toward the Artemis I launch, the agency is already thinking ahead. NASA announced on Wednesday that it would launch a round of proposals for a new lunar lander — one for use past the Artemis III mission, currently targeted for 2025.
Considering the bureaucrats running NASA, I was expecting them to drag their feet for years. For whatever reason, NASA had lost the explorers' spirit that got America to the moon. I am pleasantly surprised that we are so close to going back.
In a few short months, not decades, a rocket will fly to the moon unmanned. Artemis II will be crewed without landing. Artemis III will finally have Americans setting foot on the moon.
Apollo 17 was the last trip to the moon. That was December of 1972. We are finally heading back, and we have Trump to thank for it.
Image: Pixabay, Pixabay License.