President Bush's Vision for U.S. Space Exploration
The President's plan for steady human and robotic space exploration is
based on the following goals:
* First, America will complete its work on the
International Space Station by 2010, fulfilling our commitment to our
15 partner countries. The United States will launch a re-focused research
effort on board the International Space Station to better understand and
overcome the effects of human space flight on astronaut health, increasing
the safety of future space missions.
* To accomplish this goal, NASA will return the Space Shuttle to flight
consistent with safety concerns and the recommendations of the Columbia
Accident Investigation Board. The Shuttle's chief purpose over the next
several years will be to help finish assembly of the Station, and the
Shuttle will be retired by the end of this decade after nearly 30 years
* Second, the United States will begin developing a new manned exploration
vehicle to explore beyond our orbit to other worlds -- the first of its
kind since the Apollo Command Module. The new spacecraft, the Crew Exploration
Vehicle, will be developed and tested by 2008 and will conduct its first
manned mission no later than 2014. The Crew Exploration Vehicle will also
be capable of transporting astronauts and scientists to the International
Space Station after the Shuttle is retired.
* Third, America will return to the Moon as early as 2015 and no later
than 2020 and use it as a stepping stone for more ambitious missions.
A series of robotic missions to the Moon, similar to the Spirit Rover
that is sending remarkable images back to Earth from Mars, will explore
the lunar surface beginning no later than 2008 to research and prepare
for future human exploration. Using the Crew Exploration Vehicle, humans
will conduct extended lunar missions as early as 2015, with the goal of
living and working there for increasingly extended periods.
* The extended human presence on the Moon will enable astronauts to develop
new technologies and harness the Moon's abundant resources to allow manned
exploration of more challenging environments. An extended human presence
on the Moon could reduce the costs of further exploration, since lunar-based
spacecraft could escape the Moon's lower gravity using less energy at
less cost than Earth-based vehicles. The experience and knowledge gained
on the Moon will serve as a foundation for human missions beyond the Moon,
beginning with Mars.
* NASA will increase the use of robotic exploration to maximize our understanding
of the solar system and pave the way for more ambitious manned missions.
Probes, landers, and similar unmanned vehicles will serve as trailblazers
and send vast amounts of knowledge back to scientists on Earth.
Key Points on the President's FY 2005 Budget
* The funding added for exploration will total
$12 billion over the next five years. Most of this added funding for new
exploration will come from reallocation of $11 billion that is currently
within the five-year total NASA budget of $86 billion.
* In the Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 budget, the President will request an additional
$1 billion to NASA's existing five-year plan, or an average of $200 million
* From 1992 to 2000, NASA's budget decreased by a total of 5 percent.
Since the year 2000, NASA's budget has increased by approximately 3 percent
* From the current 2004 level of $15.4 billion, the President's proposal
will increase NASA's budget by an average of 5 percent per year over the
next three years, and at approximately 1 percent or less per year for
the two years after those.
President's Commission on the Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration
To ensure that NASA maintains a sense of focus and direction toward accomplishing
this new mission, the President has directed NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe
to review all current space flight and exploration and direct them toward
the President's goals. The President also formed a Commission on the Implementation
of U.S. Space Exploration Policy to advise NASA on the long-term implementation
of the President's vision.
Space Technology Affects the Lives of Every American
More than 1,300 NASA and other U.S. space technologies have contributed
to U.S. industry, improving our quality of life and helping save lives.
* Image processing used in CAT Scanners and MRI technology in hospitals
worldwide came from technology developed to computer-enhanced pictures
of the Moon for the Apollo programs.
* Kidney dialysis machines were developed as a result of a NASA-developed
chemical process, and insulin pumps were based on technology used on the
Mars Viking spacecraft.
* Programmable Heart Pacemakers were first developed in the 1970s using
NASA satellite electrical systems.
* Fetal heart monitors were developed from technology originally used
to measure airflow over aircraft wings.
* Surgical probes used to treat brain tumors in children resulted from
special lighting technology developed for plant growth experiments on
Space Shuttle missions.
* Infrared hand-held cameras used to observe blazing plumes from the Shuttle
have helped firefighters point out hot spots in brush fires.
* Satellite communications allow news organizations to provide live, on-the-spot
broadcasting from anywhere in the world; families and businesses to stay
in touch using cellphone networks; and the simple pleasures of satellite
TV and radio, and the convenience of ATMs across the country and around
Caveat: Before we rush
off to plumb the heavens, we might consider the Hubble Telescope as a
likely exercise to prove our agility in space. To Save
Hubble would be a Wise Use of our passion for information and technical
ability. If the space station and hubble can be repaired, there might
be some basis for expansion into other realms in generations to come.
If we abandon viable, ongoing projects to plumb the heavens with more
space clutter, we as rational and prudent galactic explorers, are full
of hubris with no intention of follow through. It would be a good idea
to do a cost benefit analysis. With so many unknown unknowns the idea
of doing it on the cheap might not be the best of ideas, just in case
someone is watching. If our Lord doth art in Heaven (he, she, it) might
find our limp attmepts at conquest to be an affront to the sensibilities
of the creator of all this senseless beauty. Tread lightly NASA, spreading
democracy and nation building is not a Eschatological Enterprise. . .
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