International Collaboration Seen As Key to Future Space Exploration
When Vice President Mike Pence announced earlier this week that the United States plans to put astronauts back on the moon within five years, he appealed to America’s competitive spirit by declaring a new space race against U.S. adversaries China and Russia.
Though the U.S. space community has been largely supportive of the administration’s plan, the former director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center told The Well News that global collaboration has been the pillar of space exploration since the end of the Cold War and should continue to play a vital role.
“Working together with other countries is the right way to do it,” said George Abbey, a fellow at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston. “We have proven that we can do space activities much more effectively with cooperation. The International Space Station is an excellent example of that.”
Abbey noted that U.S. astronauts have relied on their Russian colleagues to go to space after the U.S. discontinued its Space Shuttle program in 2011.
This approach of collaboration flies in the face of the White House, which considers space to be the next battlefield. The creation of a U.S. Space Force is further evidence.
Related article | Senate Panel Told ‘Space Force’ Vital to US Warfighting Mission
“Make no mistake about it, we’re in a space race today, just as we were in the 1960s, and the stakes are even higher,” Pence said on Tuesday during his speech at the National Space Council in Huntsville, Alabama.
Despite declaring a 21st century space race, the Trump administration’s plan to compete with China and Russia fails to address the significant budget cuts that NASA has suffered since the last American stepped on the moon in 1972.
Back then, the agency received substantially more funding than it does now. At the height of the Apollo program, NASA’s annual budget accounted for more than 4 percent of federal spending. Today, it’s less than half a percent. In his latest budget proposal, President Donald Trump offers NASA $21.02 billion in fiscal year 2020, a decrease of $480 million over what the agency received in 2019.
For Abbey, the lack of financial support is going to be NASA’s biggest challenge in complying with the administration’s ambitious 2024 deadline – four years earlier than NASA’s previous target of 2028.
“I don’t think it’s very likely because going to go back to the moon is going to cost money. And if you’re going back, you have to do it safely. You don’t want to cut corners. I think it’s going to take a good investment of funds to do it the right way. Right now, they don’t have an architecture that really gets us to the moon,” Abbey said. “It doesn’t happen unless you have the money.”
In spite of this, Abbey is convinced that returning to the moon is the right objective as humanity is already contemplating manned missions to Mars and beyond.
“There’s a great deal of science that we can do on the moon, and we need to do that, including looking at the use of lunar materials. There are a number of very good reasons to go back to the moon,” he said.
Pence identified establishing a moon base and developing new technologies for further space exploration as two main objectives.
“Failure to achieve our goal to return an American astronaut to the moon in the next five years is not an option,” the vice president said.
In The News
WASHINGTON -- Had President Biden sought Gen. David Petraeus’s advice on the Allied troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, he has made... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Had President Biden sought Gen. David Petraeus’s advice on the Allied troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, he has made no secret of that fact he would have advised against it, even though the general admits the goals from engaging in 2001 have largely been met. ... Read More
Concerned with Black mothers’ increasing maternal death rates in the U.S., members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus introduced the... Read More
Concerned with Black mothers’ increasing maternal death rates in the U.S., members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus introduced the Black Maternal Health Omnibus Act of 2021 to cover every phase of the maternal health crisis. The act should benefit all new U.S. mothers, who are... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department released two guidance documents Wednesday intended to ensure states fully comply with federal election laws,... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department released two guidance documents Wednesday intended to ensure states fully comply with federal election laws, specifically those statutes pertaining to methods of voting and constraints on post-election audits. “The right of all eligible citizens to vote is the central pillar of... Read More
WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan group of senators who have been negotiating for weeks on an infrastructure bill since forging an... Read More
WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan group of senators who have been negotiating for weeks on an infrastructure bill since forging an alliance with the White House say they’ve reached a deal on the “major issues” and can now move forward. “I think we’re good to go,” Sen.... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The Census Bureau will release redistricting data to the states in two formats beginning on Aug. 16. The... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The Census Bureau will release redistricting data to the states in two formats beginning on Aug. 16. The first release will be geared for what the agency calls “experienced data users,” with a second, easier to use release of the same data planned for... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Attorneys general from 45 states, the District of Columbia and Guam served notice on Wednesday that they are... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Attorneys general from 45 states, the District of Columbia and Guam served notice on Wednesday that they are appealing a federal judge’s decision to throw out their antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. “We filed this notice of appeal because we disagree with the court’s decision... Read More