Speak Out: When Will We Return to Space?

Does the Discovery trip end one chapter, or start another?

The Space Shuttle Discovery made its retirement voyage from Florida to Virginia, dazzling spectators who stopped to watch the final flight.


For those of us who remember the moon walks and the Challenger and Columbia disasters, this was a bittersweet moment. The United States has accomplished so much in space—it seems sad we have to hitch a ride from the Russians to send our scientists to the International Space Station.

In , Falls Church Patch Editor Andre Taylor met up with Terry Springer, NASA’s lead for communications and education. Springer said NASA is looking into different spacecraft to replace the shuttles but there is no timeframe for when a prototype will be ready.

"NASA is not dead just because the shuttles are retired," Springer said. "There is still a space program."

Which begs the question, how long do you think it will be before the United States is back in space? Is a space program too expensive? Or is it a vital part of science infrastructure?


Deirdre April 18, 2012 at 02:17 PM
NASA's science program is far bigger than its post-Apollo human spaceflight program (I work there, so I promise, I'm not just postulating). One of the characteristics of American culture when it comes to our space program is the tendency to equate "space program" and "being in space" with human spaceflight only and not with our much larger satellite-based science program. We ARE in space. Very much so. It just happens to be that, at the moment, American ships aren't carrying astronauts into space. I can't speak to how long it will be before American ships do carry astronauts into space. I can say, though, that NASA's entire budget accounts for less than 0.5 percent of the federal government budget. Given what I see as the immense benefits of the program (scientific knowledge, answers to some of the most profound human questions, etc.), it is both vital and woefully underfunded.
Tom Termini April 18, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Government spending even I can get behind.
Danila Sheveiko April 18, 2012 at 04:22 PM
The Cold War has been over for 25 years - we should have been on Mars already! Instead, all the money is spent on billion-dollar bombers and the War on Drugs.
Stephen Hull April 18, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Nasa had a replacement for the Shuttle Program eight years ago. However, the short sighted Congress killed the program. NASA built a smaller shuttle and the Air Force took that away. NASA then designed a new capsal base upon the old Apollo design. It carries six astronauts and has a large cargo area. Congress killed that as well. We will have to pay the Russians $500 million daoolars a yeat for 5 to 7 years before manned flight resumes.
JH April 19, 2012 at 01:01 PM
The Obama policies are a nighmare for America. Time for new leadership to restore America and rebuild the space program.
John Naughton April 19, 2012 at 04:14 PM
We will start getting back to space when Obama is retired. If we are blessed that will be in Jan 2013. Hooray.
Richard Rice April 19, 2012 at 04:45 PM
With the direction our country is going right now, unfortunately space exploration is one of those things which will never be returned to. The benefits we have already from NASA far outweigh all the current governmental waste! So long progress, hello new stone age!!!
jag April 19, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Lol. "Time for new leadership to restore America and rebuild the space program." You should hang out with Bush in his basement, I mean "Mission Control 2." http://www.theonion.com/articles/bush-still-working-on-manned-mission-to-mars-quiet,18154/ After all, he only doubled the national debt, might as well elect another one like him to double it again and get us to Mars! Or, no, let's elect another Regan so he can triple the national debt again and give us another Star Wars program! I agree, so long as Obama's in office there won't ever be laughable statements about colonizing Mars.
Jeff Hawkins April 19, 2012 at 06:33 PM
@jag We did elect another one like him, he's in office right now and doing a fine job of "doublin' down" on the debt. Instead of Mars we are getting more realistic destinations such as Columbia and Hawaii. Kind of hard to defend the indefensible, although one can indeed attempt to bring up past administration mishaps in an effort to justify current mishaps. I do remember roughly 50 years ago a young man saying something about "putting a man on the moon" by the end of that decade. I do remember alot of folks thinking it was a laughable statement. We know how that one turned out. I'm guessing that if the person who said "let's colonize Mars" was a Democrat, you would be the first one in line buying a ticket. LOL..............
jag April 19, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Uh, no.
jag April 19, 2012 at 06:53 PM
I'm fiscally conservative, in case you haven't noticed that about me. Which is why I haven't voted Republican lately and why I can't stand Republicans who complain about minuscule projects like food stamp abuse and immigrant job programs, but defend massive tax cuts for people who don't need them and unpaid wars (not to say you're one of them; I don't know you at all, other than you complain about petty things like CASA and 5 cent bag fees. It's entirely possible that you complain about real issues as well. At least I hope you do and can't stand the current Republican Congress, George W, and Regan either).
Jeff Hawkins April 19, 2012 at 06:55 PM
@jag Yeah.....sure you would, you wouldn't be able to resist. You're just saying "no" now because that's what you "have" to say. lol.....
Jeff Hawkins April 19, 2012 at 07:06 PM
@jag No.....why would I notice if you are fiscally conservative or frankly, why would I care. I also don't know anything about the "voting" habits of "jag". Yes....on "CASA threads" I have expressed my opinion, on "5 cent bag" threads I have also expressed my opinion as well. I believe that "might" be why those articles or threads were offered in the first place. To procure opinions...... The fact that you would characterize those issues as "petty" is very telling. As for my feelings towards Congress..........my displeasure with that body is not constrained by "party". As for the subject matter concerning this thread.........bring back NASA
jag April 19, 2012 at 07:14 PM
"[B]ring back NASA" doesn't make any sense, which is why I laughed at JH in the first place. NASA's funding has increased y/y for decades, including under the current admin. Are we spending trillions on a manned mission to Mars? No. Thankfully, talk of that died w/the last nut-job president.
Jeff Hawkins April 19, 2012 at 07:24 PM
@jag Frankly jag..........I don't think you see the "big" picture. It's OK though, we all have our own opinions.
JH April 19, 2012 at 08:30 PM
One too many Obama bots like jag on this site. They will be duped again. Student stooges, union goons, and open border loons will come a running when they hear the dog whistle sound again --- hope and change.
Tom Termini April 19, 2012 at 09:23 PM
JH, if you think Rom-bot or any others are any different/better, dream on. Every politician is an egotist who can't wait to spend everyone else's money on war, corporate patrons, and self-centered cronies to feed his/her own narcissistic self loathing. They are all the same - the only answer is... (you think I'm giving the answer away that easily?)
Allan W. April 20, 2012 at 08:44 AM
Bring NASA under the DOD and you'll have new ships coming off the rack in no time. You can rehire all the engineers and keep all the people who are working on stealth fighter/bombers who look to see they're programs cut with money going elsewhere. Certainly mastery of space and space flight is an important component of any defence strategy.
Tom Termini April 20, 2012 at 10:14 AM
Why not go the other way? Increase science and education spending by 10%, and decrease defense spending by 10%? Net result - deficit gone in a decade, a more peaceful posture, and human existence improved.
Jeff Hawkins April 20, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Interesting idea Tom......might work!
K J May 09, 2012 at 03:35 PM
The US needs to get back into space and space transport for people. The economics benefits will end the "Great Recession" faster than other methods. There is all the universe and its assets outside this very finite planet. kj


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