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Planned NASA Shift is a Dumb Move

August 17th 2011

Technology - atlantis landing
Credit: NASA

As virtually everyone in this country remained engrossed in the debt ceiling negotiations, another Federal feat occurred that received very little media notice—even though it has broad implications for our country.

I’m referring to the landing—and final grounding of the U.S. shuttle fleet—of Atlantis following its final 13-day mission.

That’s right folks, after yesterday, there will not be another U.S. spaceflight for at least four to five years, according to industry experts.

You see, someone at the White House had the bright idea that the federal government shouldn’t be in the manned exploration of space business anymore, but rather the private sector should be.

I know what you’re thinking: this is Armstrong Williams arguing for government to do something instead of the private sector? In this instance, I think it’s smart for the Feds to remain intimately involved in how we as Americans explore, understand, and ultimately dominate the final frontier.

The talk now is for human spaceflight to be run primarily by private sector interests, yet bankrolled by NASA. Terrific: now the space agency will transition from recruiting and training the best scientists in the world into government regulators.

And therein lies the problem: this is one area that has not been tested and approved. Notwithstanding the fact that this economy is teetering again on another recession, can we really expect private enterprise to step up when, if anything, entrepreneurs and innovators of all stripes are hedging their bets?

And what of the major talent in science and technology NASA loses by shifting to this new role as overseer? Will companies move eagerly to recruit that talent before a major brain drain occurs?

I just fear a move of this magnitude should have been debated and deliberated more by Congress and other experts. Humans are just beginning to understand the marvels of this universe. Many of the answers to future problems I believe do not lie on this planet.

Don’t we limit our potential as Americans if we’re forced to hitch rides into space with the Russians or the Chinese? And if the private sector does in fact keep pace with technological advances, will its aims be equally altruistic, or will the next seat to Mars go to the highest bidder as opposed to the smartest physicist?

Too many questions and not enough answers make the grounding of our manned spaceflight program a very dumb move.

Cutting Edge conservative columnist Armstrong Williams and author of Reawakening Virtues can be heard on Sirius/XM Power.

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