SCRAP IT ALL?….Regular readers know that I think dreams of moonbases and manned missions to Mars are quaint and ridiculous. We’ve been to the moon and there’s nothing there. Unmanned missions can do exploration beyond earth orbit better than manned missions, and if we’re looking for some big science projects to spend money on ? something I’m usually in favor of ? there are plenty of choices that would be more inspirational and more worthwhile than trying to recover the glory of the sixties with yet more manned space missions.

But leave that aside for a moment. Mark Kleiman (and others) are especially upset because it appears that George Bush wants to pay for this boondoggle by gutting the rest of the space program. His concern is based on this paragraph in a UPI story:

Sources said Bush will direct NASA to scale back or scrap all existing programs that do not support the new effort. Further details about the plan and the space agency’s revised budget will be announced in NASA briefings next week and when the president delivers his FY 2005 budget to Congress.

If that means scrapping all current manned space programs in favor of new ones, then I’m probably OK with it (aside from my general dislike of shoveling money at manned space programs, of course). But if it means what Mark thinks it means ? scrapping all other space programs, including unmanned research missions ? then it’s just mind bogglingly stupid and shortsighted. Sadly, given Bush’s track record, mind bogglingly stupid and shortsighted is probably the way to bet.

UPDATE: Oh crap. In comments, Hari links to this story quoting one of our local nutbag congressmen:

“Setting up operations on the moon is affordable, as long as it is taken as a primary goal for the American space program and not larded onto all of the other things that NASA does,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), chairman of the House subcommittee on space and aeronautics. As an example, he cited NASA’s efforts to assess global warming, saying: “Over the years, we have spent tens of billions of dollars of NASA money proving global warming is occurring, which I think is suspect and debatable.”

Jeez, why didn’t I think of that? The Republicans get to spend lots of money on their Texas and California aerospace pals and they get to cut back on that pesky research showing that global warming is real.

It’s just s-o-o-o-o annoying when scientific research flies in the face of your personal opinions, isn’t it? Apparently conservative Lysenkoism is alive and well in Huntington Beach.

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