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Jan. 28 2010 - 12:18 pm | 330 views | 1 recommendation | 10 comments

President Obama Rejects Science

IN SPACE - MAY 15:  In this handout from NASA,...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Apologies to my colleague Michael Roston, but Matt Drudge couldn’t have put it better. He dubbed Obama “The Unkennedy” yesterday, when linking to this Orlando Sentinel story:

NASA’s plans to return astronauts to the moon are dead. So are the rockets being designed to take them there — that is, if President Barack Obama gets his way.

When the White House releases his budget proposal Monday, there will be no money for the Constellation program that was supposed to return humans to the moon by 2020. The troubled and expensive Ares I rocket that was to replace the space shuttle to ferry humans to space will be gone, along with money for its bigger brother, the Ares V cargo rocket that was to launch the fuel and supplies needed to take humans back to the moon.

There will be no lunar landers, no moon bases, no Constellation program at all.

It seems that our President is falling to Earth in more ways than one. President Obama’s decision to cut the moon mission only further demonstrates how far his once lofty horizons have fallen.

Actually, the President’s decision to abandon the mission to the moon represents something more deep than that: it is repudiation of the venerable American tradition of Big Science. (But President Obama can rest assured that it also represents a repudiation of George Bush.) Big Science, in the telling of the historian D. De Solla Price, is defined by a marshaling of national energy and resources into learning something big – something tremendously important about the universe. It epitomizes “pure science” – that is, the process of cultivating “pure” knowledge and understanding about the physical universe. (More on that in this handsome volume.) Man’s exploration of space is a classic example of Big Science. Implicit in the concept is that man has the capacity to exert some degree of mastery – for how else can one learn? – over the physical world. And, most importantly, that there is nothing wrong with this.

It appears that President Obama to have a very different view of science. On the campaign trail in 2008, he famously declared that, as president, he would “restore science to its rightful place.” Perhaps he thinks science’s “rightful place” is China. For rather than promote a science policy that aims to expand man’s understanding and mastery of the physical world, the President seeks to shrink it. His is a science policy that seeks to reduce man’s “footprint” and promote galactic isolationism. Is this really a “science policy” at all?

Man’s capacity to comprehend and master the physical universe is one of his greatest gifts. Traditionally, American Presidents have realized this, and promoted Big Science accordingly.

On second thoughts, then, Obama’s policy is not simply “Unkennedy,” or, for that matter, “Unbush.”

It’s Unamerican.

via White House insiders say Obama budget axes Constellation program, plan to return astronauts to the moon – OrlandoSentinel.com.


4 T/S Member Comments Called Out, 10 Total Comments
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  1. collapse expand

    Was Drudge’s headline right underneath a big headline about how big our deficit is getting? Because it’s great how he’s for paring costs when it involves denying people retirement security and affordable health insurance into their old age, but opposed when it comes to Star Trek.

    But what do I know. I think it’s time for our nation to undertake a bit of an income tax hike so we can pay for all of the above. So, I’m clearly a radical Euro-socialist.

  2. collapse expand

    Ethan–I know you know this, but being against human space exploration is not to be against science. Many would argue that being FOR human exploration is anti-science, because for the price of one human mission, researchers could send dozens of unmanned robotic probes that could give us far more scientific data than a human mission could. I’d love to see humans on Mars–I wrote a book about it a few years ago–but I think our limited resources are better spent flooding the solar system with probes that can provide real data. That’s far from UnAmerican, I submit.

  3. collapse expand

    Please, number one Kennedy’s pledge to get to the moon had a great deal to do with rocket research period…as in intercontinental rockets. Second do you think we can get NASA to get its head out of its ass, it is not all about grabbing money and headlines.

  4. collapse expand

    This is an article from the exact same paper.
    Obama officials: NASA to get $6 billion for commercial rockets

    Administration officials and a former astronaut on Wednesday called President Obama’s plans for NASA “exciting” and “bold,” saying he was replacing a failed moon program with a new $6 billion project to develop commercial rockets capable of taking astronauts into orbit.

  5. collapse expand

    Your column should be entitled ‘Epstein’s Pretzel’, because you have to twist yourself in to one, to buy the premise you’re trying to sell here…

  6. collapse expand

    Excellent essay! Obama has demonstrated over and over again his priorities: Wall Street first; everything else last. This includes science. Your point: “Man’s capacity to comprehend and master the physical universe is one of his greatest gifts. Traditionally, American Presidents have realized this, and promoted Big Science accordingly.” is exactly correct. And it is this very belief that is not only lacking in The One but also seems to have been “taught” out of American culture. If The One had any sense of destiny or understanding of the true American heritage, he would (in the spirit of both FDR and Kennedy) launch a multi-decade NASA mission to Mars in response to the current economic crisis. Use the project as a jobs/science/education driver and at the same time use the capital appropriation for the project as an opportunity to take back control of the national banking system from the no-future Wall Street swine who would rather us sell our organs rather than miss an interest payment on a 28% credit card. Get Americans thinking of themselves as scientifically capable producers rather than witless consumers.
    In encourage you to follow up on this essay and take it even further. Anyone who protests space exploration because of “cost” or an other such absurdity is a coward unworthy of the title: “American”.


  7. collapse expand
    deleted account

    I have a hunch Kennedy wouldn’t have been so big on the moonshot if we had already been there in 1920.

  8. collapse expand

    I have a hunch Kennedy wouldn’t have been so big on the moonshot if we had already been there in 1920.

  9. collapse expand

    Excuse me, but exactly what does sending men to the moon have to do with “science”? It’s an exercise in technology. There’s lots of science to be done in space, but it doesn’t desperately need people to do it, robotic probes seem to be doing a darned good job up there for a couple of orders of magnitude less expense.

    We’re not in an arms race with anyone right now. We are having real issues with deficits. We need to focus on what we can afford to do and do that well.

    I think you need to work on reality a bit more.

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    I'm a writer based in Portland, Oregon. My work has appeared in the Weekly Standard, the American Spectator, the New York Press, The Big Money, sp!Ked online, the Epoch Times, the Daily NK, and others. From 2005 to 2007, I wrote a column on culture and politics for the (alas, now defunct) Seattle-based Internationalist Magazine. In so doing, I filed dispatches from Berlin, Seoul, Paris, New York, and, yes, Reno - among other places. In 2009, I reported on business from Shanghai. I attended Reed College, in Portland, Oregon.

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