Go HERE for the full article in the Orlando Sentinel. basically, the Obama administration has decided to kill ALL aspects of the Constellation program and hand over most if not all manned space operations over to the private sector.
I didn't have too much problem with the current administration refocusing space efforts. Just about every administration for the past 50 years has done the same when they took office. But this isn't just turning it in a different direction, this is clubbing it on the head and dragging the body off for disposal.
This is not a 100% done deal, but without the executive branch's support, which appoints and oversees NASA's administrators, its doubtful NASA can go any way except the way the White House wants, no matter what Congress may decide.
With this decision, the United States ceases to be a nation of explorers. There will still be US citizens who explore, certainly. But as a matter of national will and direction, we have decided to abandon our outposts, anchor our ships, and just huddle by the hearth fire.
I understand there's an ongoing recession, that one out of six Americans are out of work. But space exploration has always been long-term investment, one whose seeds you plant today to reap the rewards decades down the line. No matter how hungry you are, you don't eat your seed corn. We need investments for the future--investments that go beyond shoveling cash to already affluent corporations. We need an investment that we, as a nation as a whole, can believe in and wholly own part of. Our space program was always that. It was OUR space program. The People's space program.
WE launched men into space. WE step foot on the Moon. WE sent probes to the far reaches of the solar system. WE built most of the ISS and assembled it in orbit.
But now its going to be THEY. THAT company, THAT corporation, THAT foreign country who ferries our astronauts into space.
Yes, there are other space agencies and organizations in the world, but even if they're willing, it will be a decade or more before they can catch up to what NASA is capable of...WAS capable of.
I think, when historians decades hence look back, they will mark this as the end of the First Space Age.