This week, NASA announced that the computers onboard the International Space Station have experienced multiple failures. Currently, the Russian-made computers are barely running and if astronauts are unable to get them back up to speed, the station is in danger of being shut down for the forseeable future. Already, lobbyists and other like-minded morons on Capitol Hill are calling for further reductions in NASA funding, citing this event as proof that we are wasting our time and money in space.
Guess again folks.
It's this sort of mentality that caused the problem in the first place. The more funding was cut from NASA, the more it had to rely on partnerships with other countries to complete missions. Had NASA been funded adequately, the space station would not be powered by the Trotsky 9000. It might even have been powered by Macs, or at the very least, a really big TI99-4a. Clean cut, ass-kicking, red, white and blue technology!
Perhaps Washington does not remember, but space exploration has provided us with, (or at the very least, sped up the development of) some pretty neat stuff. Thermal and fireproof clothing, advanced robotics, MRI technnology, smoke detectors, cordless tools, medical and pharmaceutical advances, invisible braces, Ear thermometers, gaming joysticks, and satellite dishes not to mention Space Food Sticks and Tang!
From the day John F Kennedy challenged us to aim for the moon, the United States had the strongest and most effective space program in the world. Right up to the Bicentennial when we started cutting the funding. Oh sure, we made a half-hearted effort to regain some lost ground with the Shuttle Program, but it has been pretty much downhill since then. Perhaps Hollywood has been so effective at crafting their own versions of outer space since the release of Star Wars, that the realities of space exploration pale by comparison.
What else is there to spend the money on? Health care? Welfare? Immigration? The War On Terror? None of those projects have increased quality of life in this or any other country yet. In fact, those programs continue to siphon tax dollars at an increasingly rapid rate and do nothing to address the issues they were funded for in the first place. Compare what those programs have accomplished to the list above and draw your own conclusions.
Maybe we should listen to the Luddites on Capitol Hill and sit around here on our little rock sticking berries up our noses until some freindly intergalactic race drops by and gives us all long range space cruisers complete with 2 terabyte i-pods. Personally, I think we might be better off if we did, but I can't help wondering how much more we'd be missing by not being out there.
By the way, NASA... have you tried Ctrl-Alt-Del?