My view is strongly reinforced by this article in New Scientist, where NASA officials explain why they are prioritising crewed space missions over science missions.
"... other committee members worried that China would then leapfrog ahead of the US in space. 'China's going to be on the Moon in 2017 -- I think that's something we ought to be concerned about,' said committee member Ken Calvert. 'The US must maintain its global position.'"It's hard to believe, but they're openly admitting that they're driven by populistic nationalism!
Well, Dear Reader, let me tell you this. I'm very happy that American tax payers are funding NASA, I pay for a tiny bit of ESA's budget myself, and my in-laws help fund the Chinese space programme. And I don't give a Wookie fur ball in what country the people who make a scientific discovery live. When the Chinese come up with something interesting, they're very happy to translate for us. Or my wife could do it.
Update: but, "The House Science Committee’s Republican chairman and senior Democrat told NASA Administrator Mike Griffin they had little interest in accelerating the U.S. space agency’s exploration plans at the expense of science and research." Link. Mind you, they're not suggesting that NASA scrap Dubya's "Vision for Space Exploration", just that they stick to the original time table.
[More blog entries about space, nationalism, nasa, science; Andra bloggar om: rymden, nationalism, vetenskap, nasa.]