Saturday, December 14, 2013

Competition is exactly what NASA needs

Today there are two space-mission stories in the news. And here's the twist: neither involves the good old US of A.

Iran sent a monkey into space today and China successfully "soft-landed" a probe on the moon. Mind you, Iran's achievement is minor (and suspect). But China did something important -- and they plan to follow up the mission by putting a man on the moon. I think both these reports are good for the US.

I say this because Congress has such limited vision. They've been cutting NASA's funding mercilessly for some time. Perhaps the idea of China getting a foothold on the moon will wake them up. The US must continue it's extra-Earth activities in full force -- or another country will take the lead.

Congress always fears these races. The USSR's Sputnik moment pushed the US into a fierce space competition with the Soviets. That was a very good thing for the US. Fear hones the minds of congress-critters. And I suspect (and hope) that these two missions (okay, China's mission) will get them off their asses to write NASA a huge check.

NASA has been trying to keep its mojo during these lean times. In fact, they executed the most amazing space feat of all time by landing the Curiosity rover on Mars this year. But you can only do so much when your bank account is depleted.

Let's hope this opens the coffers for NASA. Space exploration is the thing Americans do best. We mustn't lose our edge at this stage of the game.

Besides which, China truly is a threat. I'm sure their plan includes setting up a base so they can aim weapons at the US and thereby achieve world dominance. That's how China rolls: by pushing everyone around. And they are a very paranoid nation.

Let's hope our cartoon Congress gets all riled up over this. If they can stop preening in front of their Tea Party mirrors long enough to write a check, NASA will be back on its feet in no time.