Obama has done one decent thing and moved to cut funds to the space program. Neil Armstrong has condemned Obama for it. There are two thoughts that immediately come to me as a result: 1. “So what?” and 2. “Who cares what Neil Armstrong thinks?”
Arguments in favor of the space program are based on two things: sentimentalism and militarism. The militaristic argument is the more sophisticated one. The space program, behind its veneer of civilian purpose, has always been a military program founded to improve rocket technology, and eventually, to provide the United States with military superiority over space itself. The sentimentalism is the rationale that most Americans subscribe to as they get misty eyed over fantasies about “the human spirit” and “destiny” and all those other concepts from Hollywood adventure films.
From a pragmatic point of view, the space program is nothing more than a massive socialist spending program with militaristic intent, but which benefits handsomely from hysterical and maudlin appeals to hope in the government’s ability to accomplish anything provided enough time and taxpayers’ loot.
In this age of budding private space travel, thanks to organizations like Virgin Galactic, government space travel is more unjust and obsolete than ever. Yet, glorified crash test dummies like Neil Armstrong feel free to throw hissy fits if someone dares to slow the flow of taxpayer dollars to his pet projects. Having spent decades of his life as a military bureaucrat on the government dole, it is beyond comprehension to Armstrong that government spending on the space program is unnecessary and totally wasteful. And, even if one granted that space exploration were a good thing, one would still be a long way from demonstrating the need for manned space flight. Armstrong and others who have walked on the moon have done absolutely nothing that a robot could not have done. The Mars missions are a perfect example of just how superfluous humans are to space exploration in the early 21st century. Having a human wander around on the surface of Mars will tell us nothing more about the air, the soil, or the gravitational pull than we already know.
But, in the end, it’s all just special interst and partisan politics. Broadly speaking, the Dems’ primary power base comes from Unions and non-whites and environmentalists. The GOP’s power base comes from white males and the military establishment. It’s only natural that Obama would cut some military spending, in the form of NASA dollars, to throw some money to some of his base. Armstrong can rest assured that the next GOP president will shovel plenty of pork toward the space program.