Leader in Space Exploration or Saving the Earth?

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During 1957, the United States of America is locked in the Cold War with Communist Russia and extended itself to a space race between the super powers. The Russian Regime claimed leadership of space that year by sending the first satellite into orbit around the Earth. Again, in April 1961, they claimed another achievement by sending the first man into space.

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The same year, President John F. Kennedy, gave America a vision to seize leadership in space by sending a manned mission to the moon. He laid the necessity for funding before a joint-session in the United States Congress for America to be the leader in space exploration, to steward our national resources in achieving a long-term goal, and guide future generations toward the right path. America’s space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, followed through from then president JFK’s priority directive, and successfully accomplished his vision with Apollo 11 in 1969.

Since JFK, American Presidents have echoed him by setting their priority directive for NASA in similar tone and action. Former President Barak Obama in 2016, set his priority directive to send a manned mission to Mars by 2033. Followed by our current President Donald Trump, he has directed NASA to more solely focus on its deep space exploration. This includes the existing Mars directive with additional costly manned and unmanned lunar missions. What is more, he planned deep cuts to climate centered Earth Science missions (Cite FY-2018?). The envisioned outcome is to resonate the same effect JFK’s directive had on America. Only Americans are not facing nuclear threats from Communist Russia. The greatest threat Americans face now is climate change. International scientific bodies and governments across the globe conclude human actions cause changes to Earth’s atmosphere. The change to Earth’s atmosphere negatively impacts the global economy and food supply (IPCC). For Americans, climate change affects the ability to continue unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for ourselves and future generations. Prioritizing the Earth Science Mission over Planetary space explorations missions would make America the leader against the threats of climate change. This requires going beyond the reasoning of the past.

NASA has been a constant center of the greatest intelligent resources, and Americans understand the labor exerted in its history. It has benefitted the United States economy by creating industries and technologies to support its missions. The current priority directive first requires unmanned, then manned lunar missions before setting out for Mars. The lunar objective is estimated to cost ten billion tax-payer dollars. Abundant reports, including NASA’s annual socio-economic reports, shows NASA returning largely on most investments. Lunar missions then have a potential for positive economic impact. Formally, the first manned Mars mission is projected to be accomplished around the middle of this century and estimated to cost tax payers hundreds of billions of dollars (Funk).

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