There has been much speculation about the future of NASA without Constellation. But this goes beyond the future of NASA â€” to the future of America as a whole.
No one has to be reminded of the motivation and imagination that human space flight has inspired. Many a career in science, engineering or math began with a young child dreaming of space flight while watching man explore outer space on TV.
The administrationâ€™s decision to kill NASAâ€™s Constellation program isnâ€™t just the death knell for U.S. human space exploration, it is a decision to place Americaâ€™s space program in the category of second, or even third in the world.
Americaâ€™s dominance in space has always been so much more than a race to be first. It has signaled our nationâ€™s commitment to forge paths once unimaginable.
Scientific and technological discoveries are born from both necessity and risk taking.
The journey of space exploration has taken the Unites States to global leadership on many fronts.
Our dominance in human space coincided with our status as a superpower. That is no accident. Our commitment to be the best in national security and space exploration go hand-in-hand. This one reason why there has been long-standing bipartisan support for NASA and human space flight.
The economic, scientific and technological returns far exceeded our investment. Observations from space have provided GPS, meteorological forecasts, predictions and management of hurricanes and other natural disasters, as well as surveillance and intelligence.
Royalties on NASA patents and licenses go directly to the U.S. Treasury. NASA has been a solid investment because it does so much with so little.
Ending human space flight is a major setback for our country. It could set us back 50 years and force us to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to get Americans into space â€“ by relying on Russia and other nations for a ride.
It is important to remember that this budget path shifts taxpayer resources from NASA, the only entity with a track record in human space, and hands it to unproven commercial entities to reinvent what we have already achieved.
This is not a savings; it is a wasteful redirection of taxpayer funds.
Is human space exploration worth it? If not, why are nations like China and India ramping up their programs? Clearly they know what America has known for years: The direct investment alone is worth the cost; and the indirect benefits lead to economic drivers and scientific discoveries that far exceed expectations.
NASA has long been a cradle for innovation. Without human space flight, where is the incentive for future scientists and engineers to take up these careers?
Human space flight is so much more than the basis for an inspirational movie. It is the heart of American ingenuity and pioneering that has placed our nation at the forefront of technology and science.
We must make the commitment that America will stay No. 1.
Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) is the ranking member on the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics in the House Science and Technology Committee. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) is on the House Financial Services Committee.