As we celebrate (and the media decries the sexism) of the moon landing, let’s revisit what Obama did to the space program and how Trump is turning it around.
This week marked the 44th anniversary of the moon landing. Three months earlier, an irritated Bolden had responded to critics of a directionless NASA by saying, “NASA will not take the lead on a human lunar mission. NASA is not going to the Moon.”
In 2008, Obama’s position paper said that he “endorses the goal of sending human missions to the Moon by 2020.” He lied. In 2010, he announced that returning to the moon was not a worthwhile goal because it “lacked innovation”.
As far back as 2007, Obama had called for delaying the Constellation program, which would have replaced the space shuttles, for five years in order to pay for his education program. He was the only major candidate to do so.
Once he got into office, the delay became a full-fledged cancellation.
During Obama’s first year in office, economic aid to Pakistan nearly tripled to $1.3 billion. While Obama could find no room in his budget request for the Constellation space program, a year after the Bin Laden raid, which caught Pakistan harboring America’s greatest enemy, the 2012 budget requested $3 billion in aid for Pakistan.
“With regard to President Obama’s 2010 plan, I have yet to find a person in NASA, the Defense Department, the Air Force, the National Academies, industry, or academia that had any knowledge of the plan prior to its announcement,” Neil Armstrong wrote.
“How could such a chain of events happen?” the first man to walk on the moon asked. “A plan that was invisible to so many was likely contrived by a very small group in secret who persuaded the President that this was a unique opportunity to put his stamp on a new and innovative program. I believe the President was poorly advised.”
Armstrong was being kind in assuming that Obama did not know that he was trashing NASA. His 2007 Constellation proposal showed that this had been his plan all along.
And the evolving comeback…
Looking over at former Senator Schmitt, the last living man to walk on the moon in the Apollo 17 mission forty-five years ago, President Trump said, “Today, we pledge that he will not be the last.”
“This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint, we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and, perhaps, someday to many worlds beyond.”
Having former Senator Schmitt at the signing was a powerful reminder of what we had aspired to. And what we had lost. Apollo 17 wasn’t just our last manned mission to the moon; it was the last time we left low-earth orbit. For forty-five years, we’ve had a space program in name only.
The last time we left our own planet, Nixon was in the White House.
Schmitt was a young man when he became the last person to step out from a spacecraft onto the moon. He’s 82 now. The rest of his crew is dead. The photo he took of the earth hangs on a thousand dorm room walls. But none of those students have had the opportunity to take another one like it. And if Obama had gotten his way, that’s how the legacy of our space program would have ended.
“After braving the vast unknown and discovering the new world, our forefathers did not only merely sail home,” President Trump said. “They stayed, they explored, they built, they guided, and through that pioneering spirit, they imagined all of the possibilities that few dared to dream. Today, the same spirit beckons us to begin new journeys of exploration and discovery, to lift our eyes all the way up to the heavens.”
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