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I have to admit, I laughed, especially at the “Pluto” part.
Still, I do sometimes worry about the future of NASA marketing. Promoting movies like The Martian is great, but I wonder if this will backfire in the long run. I agree with my friend Joel Achenbach; Congressional squabbling over NASA’s budget and the lack of a clear vision or plan to get to Mars only serves to contrast what NASA promotes versus what it can actually do.
This is not NASA’s fault, mind you. I lay the blame squarely on Congress. They have a clear path ahead of them—fully funding Commercial Crew—but instead keep throwing money at the Space Launch System (which, if built, will cost so much NASA won’t be able to do anything with it) and the Orion capsule, which now may not be able to take humans in it until 2023, a full eight years after Commercial Crew would’ve been able to send humans into space, had Congress funded it.
What a mess. The majority of Americans love NASA, and it’s incredible that NASA can do such amazing feats like send probes to Pluto and Saturn and protoplanets like Vesta and Ceres at all, let alone given the Keystone Kops feel of the Congress members pulling the purse strings. My only hope now is that these folks in Congress get replaced in the 2016 elections.
It’s hard to look to the stars when the people funding you have their heads jammed into pork barrels.