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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Remembering Challenger

Remembering Challenger

It was 20 years ago that Challenger blew up in 1986. I still remember it as vividly as I recall what I was doing when President Kennedy was shot and on the day of 9 11. I sat in front of the TV nearly all day, watching it, hoping all of them somehow escaped in the crew module, knowing it wasn't likely.

At the Bay Area GOP candidate forum a few nights ago I heard the incumbent’s representative say how DeLay had “saved” NASA by adding $1.1 billion to its budget recently. What he didn’t say was that it was DeLay who has continually cut NASA’s budget over the years, usually right after beating me in a primary. Is that commitment?

Do you want to trust him again?

Funding for NASA in the budget is NOT going up – for the next 5 years it will be flat. Any Congress rep can manage to do that. Twenty five years ago I went to China on pollution control technology negotiations and was nearly run down by millions of bicycles. Now, even China has put people in space and preparing its own space missions. India, Japan and others are not far behind. Meanwhile, our astronauts wait years for a mission. What a sad waste of valuable, high tech talent. They should be flying not waiting.

We can do better to honor our fallen space heroes. Our Congress has done little to give our space program a replacement Shuttle before the old ones failed. Our astronaut's have not been getting the funds needed to be a space pioneer as the world’ largest superpower. Barbara Morgan, our backup "teacher in space" has had to wait 20 years since Challenger's loss.

At the present rate, others will pass our achievements unless Congress energizes NASA and encourages private space entrepreneurs. These losses could have been avoided with a little vision in Congress, etc.

In memory of the astronauts lost on Challenger and Columbia, I think we can do much better. As a pilot and space enthusiast for decades, I will make it a key focus if elected to represent District 22.

How? I’d cut all of the $13 billion in pork projects such as the “bridge to nowhere” and transfer at least half of it to NASA and other programs we need.

NASA is too important to be left struggling with minimal budgets in the 21st Century. It is a key asset in District 22 and deserves far better than it has fared the last 20 years under the incumbent.


ThinkAndAct said...

Isn't it puzzling how the media hasn't (yet) touched upon how Tom DeLay, who purports to be a fan of putting unemployeed (and underemployed) engineers and scientists in Clear Lake back to work, clearly shirks the new
and hard-fought NASA-sponsored competitive prizes program?

Competitive prizes often attract around 40 times their amount in terms of total private sector investment pursuing them. Such a scenario could translate into far more jobs and better innovations, as well as far more politically supportive voting taxpayers where our space program is concerned. Nevertheless NASA's prizes currently receive less than 1/2 of
1% of NASA's annual $16 billion dollar budget, while JSC gets nearly a third of it all each year (even as we can't achieve what the Russians, etcetera achieve and with 25 times less money, too).

As this analysis documents:

competitive prizes have an impressive success record particularly where bureaucratic central planners and their government contractor clique have
predictably failed decade after decade. Remember how some Southern Californians made it into space a year and a half ago while chasing merely a $10 million dollar prize ( )? With our high taxes and
even higher $8.3 trillion dollar national debt
( ), the prospects of
funding prizes adequately through private means seem dismal, but Tom DeLay claims that's not the case.

Fortunately other government agencies like DARPA have already offered multi-million dollar prizes and have had roaring success (as demonstrates). But here in Clear Lake too many of our engineers and scientists remain unemployed or at least under-employed while our space program remains down & dependent on pork
barrel politics that make NASA an international mockery which drains away U.S. competitiveness (as documents).

Why does Tom DeLay get a free pass to keep saying that competitive prizes should be funded merely privately, supposedly for the good of NASA's
exploration initiatives (instead of, ahem, his largest donors)? Is he ashamed of how anti-entrepreneurial the legal climate for space ventures in
the USA has been allowed to become such that current or at least potential companies in the Clear Lake area supposedly couldn't succeed at winning prizes in the absence of legal reforms like these for which he has
peculiarly NOT been fighting: ? Or
are there other things going on behind the scenes that make that current Congressman desire to maintain a tight grip on our space program's purse strings? Wouldn't the media like to hear a candidate finally speak out on
this perhaps little known scandal? Otherwise, the same stale issues will keep coming up before the primary while that current Congressman can
continue pretending to be our space program's friend.

The people have the government that they deserve.
-Ben Franklin

ThinkAndAct said...

Here's a better link for the NASA prizes, since I see that that one was somehow cut-off: