Science is the next victim at the guillotine

With our rapidly ballooning national deficit compliments of the credit card Congress and GOP reversal on the government’s fiscal responsibility, we are under threat of losing quite a bit more than just our hard-earned money that must be taken from us and future generations to pay for this reckless behavior.  We now learn NASA’s continuing and excessive budget cuts may force the organization to halt all science on the International Space Station for at least a year.  The move, if enacted, is intended to save money that will instead be spent on construction of the orbital platform.  To wit:

NASA managers are considering suspending U.S. research aboard the International Space Station (ISS) next year in order to save money for the orbital laboratory’s construction, a top program manager said Thursday.

Kirk Shireman, deputy director of NASA’s ISS program at Johnson Space Center (JSC), said dropping science research during the 2007 fiscal year is one of several options on the table to make up for a funding shortfall of up to $100 million.

“Right now we’re quite a bit in the hole,” Shireman told reporters during a Thursday ISS mission briefing at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. “We’ll look at a bunch of different options for the assembly budget; all those things are under consideration.”

It strikes me as a bit odd that our space research agency would be forced to suspend research in order to cover its budgetary shortfall.  Focusing on construction is hardly a fair trade in this case.

The National Research Council has issued several reports citing the need for more ISS science and larger station crews in order to bring the orbital laboratory up to its full potential.

Why then are we considering going in the opposite direction?  The answer is quite simple: the government continues to cut NASA’s funding so they can divert money to the bottomless pit that is the War on Terror™, a war we’re not even fighting anymore; space exploration is not deemed a critical endeavor despite our continuing destruction of Earth’s habitat, a move that may eventually — and sooner than most think — force us to seriously consider alternative locations and environments; and Republicans hate science, so their control over the budgetary process at both the legislative and executive levels means investments in research will continually be cut (as they have done repeatedly and in many areas over the last several years).

And where are the Democrats in all of this?  Sitting on their thumbs and spinning while they whine and moan and groan about the problems they seem unwilling to address.  As a party, they’re unable to voice a coherent, strong, shared opinion on any topic, and that explains why they keep failing on election days.  I mean honestly, can anyone tell me what the Democrats stand for now?  What is their platform outside of being the political whipping boy and opposition party that opposes itself more than anything else?

The Democrats have relegated themselves to inconsequentiality, so the Republican war on science continues full tilt.  That means NASA is becoming a construction company instead of a space exploration and science agency.


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