Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Putting NASA in bed with the Pentagon

Posted by John McHale

A recent Bloomberg news story reported that the incoming Obama administration is looking to have NASA programs linked with the military to get them in orbit more quickly to compete with China and to counter any Chinese military operations in space.

On its face it sounds like a good plan. It would save money by sharing the costs of the various programs. According to the Bloomberg article, the Pentagon spent more on space -- about $22 billion -- last year than NASA did.

Culturally however it may be a tougher sell. NASA has traditionally been a civilian agency focused on the peaceful exploration of space and furthering human knowledge. The public and many inside the agency might be quite uncomfortable about sharing with the Pentagon.

Public opinion might change if China successfully lands humans on the Moon before the U.S. returns. NASA is planning a manned lunar exploration in 2020.

Could we see the planet's major powers carve up the Moon? Today there are no national boundaries on lunar maps. I hope it remains that way.

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