Skewed Priorities …

John-GlennI have many memories of the space program … I remember 1962, I was ten years old and in fifth grade.  The teacher rolled a television into the classroom so that we could watch the launch of Friendship 7, John Glenn becoming the first American to orbit the Earth, and the fifth person and third American in space.  Truly exciting for a ten-year-old kid!

I remember five years later when a fire broke out in the command module of Apollo 204 during a simulated launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, killing astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee of asphyxiation.

Who could forget that magic moment on July 20th, 1969 when we heard those words from a million miles away uttered by Neil Armstrong …

“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

moonwalkAnd I remember exactly where I was standing in my kitchen when I first heard the news on January 28th, 1986 that the space shuttle Challenger had exploded just after launch and I remember crying for the rest of that day.  All seven astronauts aboard were killed including Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher who had been selected as part of a national “Teacher in Space” initiative.  And nearly 20 years later, once again an entire shuttle, Columbia, and its crew were gone in the blink of an eye.ChallengerI grew up with the space program, even had the opportunity to visit Johnson Space Center in 1968 when my friend Nidia and I took a trip to visit her brother who lived in Houston, Texas.  So, by no means do I have anything against space exploration or NASA.  However …

As the United States, along with the rest of the world, is currently in the middle of a pandemic crisis, and given that this nation is, for all intents and purposes, bankrupt with more than $25 trillion in debt, I think it is unconscionable to be spending money on a space launch at this time.

Yesterday, NASA announced the date for the first manned space launch:  May 27th.

There are more than 22 million people unemployed in the U.S. today.  We have had nearly 40,000 deaths due to coronavirus and in many areas the disease has not slowed at all.  Small businesses are struggling and the relief money from the $2.3 trillion stimulus bill has already run out.  People cannot pay their rent, doctors and hospitals do not have enough personal protective equipment to keep critical care workers safe, there are not nearly enough test kits to test the number needed, schools have been cancelled for the rest of the year … the nation is in the midst of a crisis that will not be miraculously ‘fixed’ anytime soon.  We cannot afford to be sending people into space.

There’s another wrinkle in this plan … for the first time, the spacecraft carrying the two astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, will not be owned and operated by NASA, but by a private company — SpaceX, the commercial space company founded by Elon Musk.  Though the Dragon spacecraft that will carry the astronauts has been successfully used to deliver cargo to the International Space Station, it has never carried live humans.  What could possibly go wrong?

I am not against technology or ‘progress’, but it seems to me that the purpose of this mission is far outweighed by other, more immediate concerns facing this nation.  Frankly, we do not have money to fritter away on this … and if we do have that kind of money, then let’s use it to help the people who have been financially affected by the current crisis.  People.  Not corporations.  People.  Families.  Children.

Yeah, I know I’m spitting in the wind, that NASA and our government would only laugh at me even in the unlikely event that anyone from those organizations read this post, but … I thought you all should know how your precious, hard-earned tax dollars are being spent.  Of course, if it’s any consolation, the cost is only about $55 million per astronaut, or $110 million total.  A mere pittance … unless you figure how many people could eat for a month on that money.

28 thoughts on “Skewed Priorities …

  1. I agree with all the sentiments…..however
    But first a couple of asides
    I have disliked Musk every since he had a hissy-fit because he could use he suppa-duppa submarine to rescue children from a cave and made a vile remark about the man who did but got away with it because of money.
    And Trump wants to mine on the moon….good! Give the little asshole a pick and shovel and send him off in a Musk-mobile, I’ll tie a friggin’ yellow ribbon ’round an old oak tree while he’s gone.
    That said. Even if those two were not involved we will keep on going out into Space.
    It’s there you see, that’s why. It calls to us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah yes, I had all but forgotten about Elon Musk’s nastiness about the diver in the cave rescue. He called him a pedophile, didn’t he? And I remember that the diver sued Musk, but I never heard how that came out. I’m with you on Trump personally going to the moon with a pick and shove. Oops, the space ship had to leave and get back to Earth and they forgot little Donnie. Oh well … no loss.

      Well, our own planet is calling to us, sending us a distress signal, an S.O.S., and we aren’t heeding that … there won’t be a substitute up there in space, so methinks we better worry about our own home before we go exploring far afield. Sigh.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I wonder if there is a point being missed here? Most of the money in this project, public or private, has already been spent, long before the appearance of the current pandemic. That was the time to have questioned the wisdom of the project, the time when it was providing jobs and, thereby, food on the table, for a great nunber of people. I would argue also that, If it leads eventually to the possibility of expanding the volume of resources available to sustain humankind in the future it will have been worthwhile.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You make some very valid points, Frank. And I might not argue against the value of the program at some future point, AFTER we have done everything in our power to combat climate change, clean up our oceans, regulate carbon emissions, etc., and when far fewer people are going without food, shelter, medical care, etc. We just have so many priorities, and this one seems low on the totem pole to me.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know, but certainly Trump stands to gain in one way or another. And as far as I’m concerned, Mr. Elon Musk should be donating at least half of his $37 billion to people in need at this time, rather than stroking his own and Donnie’s egos!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Even before the pandemic I argued in a previous blog that our priorities are skewed and that the space program cannot be defended as long as there are folks without homes or food to put on the table. But now it is even more absurd.

    Liked by 2 people

    • And I fully agree with you … we need to be more concerned with our environment here on planet Earth, the only planet that can sustain human life, and as you say, too many people are living in poverty for us to be throwing tax dollars away on such. Something special awaits you on Jolly Monday!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You echo my thoughts, albeit with an eloquence that I lack, when I read about this earlier today though exactly which source it was in escapes me at the moment. No matter, the last part of that sentence is of no importance whatsoever anyway. What is important is that you state what should be obvious to anyone with any functioning brain cells. The money that will be shot into space is needed on this planet in this country…yesterday! I, too, (being somewhat older than you) recall each of those pioneering space endeavors…some of which woefully failed and those which wonderfully succeeded. I, too, can recognize the importance of continued space exploration somewhere in the distant future when some have survived this pandemic. Though, as we have already decimated this planet nearly to the brink of extinction, one must wonder if another planet deserves to be so plundered too! Thank-you!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. According to the Fed, they can print unlimited amount of money to bail out the banks and stabilize the economy… anybody else doing that would go to jail for counterfeiting. Already food prices have gone up, more ppl hungry, fallen thru the cracks of society. Since when did the gov’t ever work for the ppl?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I remember reading somewhere (possibly Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy) that “progress stops for no man.” I guess this is an example of that. But obviously this is somehow putting money in Trump’s pocket, and probably he is hoping to gain notoriety and name-recognition from this. “Oh, Donald Trump. That’s the guy who took us back to space. I’ll vote for him.”
    We’ll have to hope that the voters recognize Trump’s name as the man who kiled xxxxxxx no. of people. “He can go to hell!”

    Liked by 4 people

    • But, how is this even progress? It’s putting money into Elon Musk’s pockets ( he already has $37 BILLION), and Trump will claim kudos that will help him in his bid for re-election. Otherwise, the whole thing at this time serves zero purpose. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Uh, I am talking about technological progress, or scientific, something like that. No, it is certainly not social progress, and I am not i agreement with it, just trying to explain. I was not asking anyone to believe.
        I grew up in an age where science fiction was booming. I was an SF fanatic, reading everything I could. A lot of writers were discussing whether humanity’s explosion into space was a good thing, or a bad thing. To young people who either had no idea about social problems yet, or who were looking for escape from horrible lives, or both, space travel sounded fantastic. If nothing else, it taught us to ask “big” questions, and it taught us to dream. I would not be who I am today without science fiction.
        The key word, of course, is fiction. It was speculative, but it wasn’t real. And it never talked about the cost of making it happen.
        Sorry for going on, but I got trapped back in the best/worst time of my life. I went off topic, and don’t know how to get back on without deleting this comment. I don’t want to do that…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah, I grew up in the same era, and while I didn’t care for Sci-Fi, I did like the idea of space exploration. I’m still not against it, but we have so many more pressing problems: the environment, poverty, health care, etc., that I just don’t think the benefits outweigh the costs. And, bottom line, is it’s the taxpayers who must foot the bill. I would far rather feed a poor family, or donate to the homeless shelter than put more money into Elon Musk’s and Trump’s pockets.

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  7. I heard or read something in the past that blowing that much money is justified because some of the research for space travel has found application in our world. So maybe their philosophy is the poor you will always have.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Space travel is not about to distract the public from what’s been going on recently. And no sudden surge in American gung ho since you’ve gung ho’d a number of times in the past, yawn. The Nation is in mourning and who knows if the deaths will have stopped by that time. The money would be best spent helping those in need.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 3 people

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