Thoughts on the proposed NASA 2011 Budget . . .

“The National Space Society (NSS) commends NASA and the Executive Branch for proposing to increase spending for science, technology, and sustainable economic development in space; however, we believe the President’s 2011 budget request would leave the job only partly done.”

We need to support a space program (human and robotic) that goes beyond low-Earth orbit. 

We need a space program that will bring the inner solar system into our economic sphere and extend human presence throughout the solar system in accordance with U.S. national space policy, by adopting a long-term vision including power and materials from space.

The confluence of interests necessary to establish and maintain a national Space Policy is forged from a potent blend of promise, political interest, and economic wisdom … the promise of new real wealth — in terms of knowledge, resources, and technology;  the political interest of the body politic, and those that serve it; and last, but not least, the economic wisdom to choose goals and missions sufficiently compelling that they can and will endure across multiple administrations.

The proposed NASA 2011 Budget is pregnant with opportunity, laying forth a cornucopia of constructive endeavors in a reasoned programmatic framework while at the same time seeking to strike a balance between proposed funding and the programs to be carried forward. 

That said, technology development without requirements, without a set of missions that it is intended to enable, runs the risk of irrelevance if not being deemed a squandering of resources.

The challenge before us is to establish policy that sustains the confluence of interests necessary to achieve the future we wish to see come to pass … people living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth, and the use of the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity.

We need to support and expect a bright future in space, and the private sector cannot do it all alone.

Our space endeavors, government and commercial, provide strategic capabilities that define us as a nation and help maintain our leadership in the peaceful exploration and development of space.  

We need a comprehensive space program worthy of a nation willing to lead on the space frontier.  

Accordingly, whatever restructuring of NASA’s future is sustained and funded by this Congress, and those that come later, should be held to the standard of goals and destinations that foster the expansion of human activities and civilization into space beyond low Earth orbit. 

Ad Astra!

- Gary P. Barnhard

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