Hey Dave. Yes my calculation on Afghanistan spending versus NASA spending was off. It looks like we're spending about $300 million a day in Afghanistan, so it would take 59 days, or two months, to equal the NASA budget.
But I think you got my point regarding priorities.
@Rob: Actually, the annual NASA budget is equal to about nine and a half weeks of Afghanistan war spending. That's still a pretty unfortunate commentary on where our national priorities are. But the $17.8 billion dollars allocated to NASA is producing some amazing results; imagine what NASA could do with the $99 billion that is being spent on the war. Hopefully the government shutdown will end soon so that they can get back to work.
Thanks, Dave for that comment: eloquent, well put, and reminds me of what I felt about space exploration as a kid growing up in the Sputnik era. There was a lot of nonsense about us vs the Russians but I just thought everything all of us did was amazing and wonderful.
Ann, you make a good arguement for unmanned space exploration. The challoenge is to make sure the unmanned efforts still capture the public's imagination. The recent Mars trip certainly accompliahed this.
"We owe our children a positive vision that will inspire their imaginations."
Indeed we do. Part of the problem is that important programs that raised public awareness and create excitement for space have been cut. I will never forget our family's visit to the Johnson Space Center Open House. It was incredible as we got to see behind the scenes in many areas that were not normally open to the public except at this special event. My son was three years old and he got to shake Colonel Rick Husband's hand and meet several space shuttle astronauts. He got to see moon rocks up close. I was hoping to take him several times as he got older, but when I called NASA to find out when they were having it again, I was informed that the program was shut down. This is such a shame - I hope they are able to do these again some day - it would definitely be a "positive vision that would inspire their imaginations."
Dave, NASA could definitely use your help in explaining the good things that are happening. Given the state of our federal budget, NASA needs to be able to communicate its value better moving ahead. Excellent post.
Regarding the Chinese and Indian space programs, I was raised on Star Trek, so I was inculcated with the idea that space exploration is something that ought to bring humanity together as a species, rather than competing nation-states. Even as a kid during the Cold War, I followed the Soviet space program as closely as the U.S. space program, and celebrated its achievements, such as the Venera probes to Venus, the Salyut and Mir space stations, and the Proton rockets (which are still in use today). I really hope that as humanity goes into space, we can leave narrow nationalism behind.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.