19 April 2010

Mars

So, Obama announced (on Tax Day) that he wants to send men to Mars.

Here's what the NY Times said about his plan:
A manned space program in itself, however, is devoid of scientific merit, fraught with risk to human lives and absurdly expensive. Astronauts planting the Stars and Stripes on the red planet would produce a moving tableau. But as Lord Chesterfield said in another context, the pleasure would be momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable.
Just kidding. That's what they said about Bush's desire to send men to Mars six years ago. They loved Obama's plan. Or should I say they loved Bush's plan, as long as it was presented by Obama? Yeah, that's more like it.

I got that extract from Paul Cooper, who has a great run down of other papers similar about-faces when it comes to Obama's Mars scheme.

Via the Czar of Muscovy, by way of TJIC.  The former summarize it thus:
The Volgi was kind enough to forward on a fascinating comparison between the MSM’s reaction to President Bush’s entreaty to go to Mars and their reaction to President Obama’s identical plea.

Remember it? Basically, Bush wants to go to Mars; what an idiot! Obama wants to go to Mars; what a visionary genius! In many respects, the link will show you, the speeches, timelines, goals, and funding promises are almost exactly identical between the two; however, the media decided Obama’s version is totally without condemnation because they like him.
I'll have to disagree with him a little later on in that post, when he says
“How can we justify spending all those billions of dollars on a space program when there are so many programs in dire need of funding here on earth?” The reality is that NASA funding is very low—in fact, it is under $18 billion a year.
Yes, NASA funding isn't a big ticket item, but (A) we've got to start making cuts somewhere, and (B) the $5 Billion NASA spends on research is almost a quarter of the public expenditure on all non-defense, non-medical science and engineering. Yeah, space is cool and all, but do you really think our research priorities should be diseases, then wars, then outer space, then ... everything else?  Oh, and (C) NASA, and manned space travel in particular, is a giant white elephant.  It only exists to show other countries what a big swinging d America has.  It's a shining beacon of the profligacy of Uncle Sam, and deserves to be cut, like ear marks, even if doing so doesn't change the bottom line that much.

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It’s not NASA’s job to send a man to Mars. It’s NASA’s job to make it possible for the National Geographic Society to send a man to Mars.

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