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Saturday, February 01, 2003

The Final Frontier-A lot of people have talked about the need to keep the space program going, but this comment from Peter Sean Bradley seems to nail it nicely
If you agree with me, let yourself be heard. I fear that the space program is losing support among the young. Several years ago I sat on a panel which was part of the UCLA scholarship program. We saw the best and the brightest of Fresno County. Kids with resumes as long as your arm and 4.3 GPAs. The program consisted of asking "big think" (to plagiarize my Con Law Professor, Prof. Karst) questions. My question was "if you had to cut 3% from the budget would you cut from Medical Research, Space Exploration or Social Services, and why?" In my day, space would not have been touched. Every one of those bright kids cut the space budget and favored increasing the budget for medical research. In their world, we would have a healthy, well fed population without any dreams.
Space travel isn't practical, but it gives us a place to focus our dreams. You'll hear someone wanting to take the space budget and apply it to various worthy earthbound projects, but space allows for creativity that you're not going to get by putting extra money into education or medical research or basic provision of needs. We don't have much of a frontier in the 21st century. The ocean floor might be one, but you don't get kids inspired by Sea Quest; that was merely a second-rate (it did have its moments in the early going) Star Trek in a sub. Space has inspired many a child into studying physics and chemestry with the idea of being an astronaut someday; you're not going to get that by expanding the teacher-training budget or by giving the NIH a bigger check.

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