And the beat goes on: the Hampton Roads (Va.) Daily Press, in an editorial yesterday, criticizes NASA for turning its back on the Earth through a series of “ominous signs”, including deleting a reference to the Earth while revising the agency’s mission statement. “The evidence that speaks the loudest is where NASA puts its money, and it has been raiding science budgets to find money for President Bush’s misguided quest to send humans back to the moon and on to Mars.” (And if you don’t think that language is strong enough, try this: “…a nationally important agency turned on its head to pursue the whim of a man who will never have time to achieve his goal before he’s out of office. What he’ll leave behind is the toll his fancy is taking on the capability and culture of that agency.”) The paper is particularly concerned because the nearby Langley Research Center focuses on aeronautics and atmospheric sciences, two areas that appear particularly vulnerable to cuts.
Lou Friedman, executive director of The Planetary Society, makes a big deal about wading his toes into the blogosphere, but really his first post is a conventional op-ed about the state of NASA’s support (or lack thereof) for science and exploration as a part of the Vision for Space Exploration. Friedman takes aim in particular at a speech made by presidential science advisor John Marburger, one that, in Marburger’s own words, “subordinates space exploration to the primary goals of scientific, security, and economic interests.” “I am beginning to think that the new interpretation of the Vision, and the new direction of NASA, is more ideological than visionary, more about extending our economic interests than anything to do with the public good and public interest in space exploration,” Friedman writes. But other than calling this “anti-science rhetoric”, Friedman doesn’t explain why economic and security interests shouldn’t have a higher priority that science; one can argue that this has pretty much been the case for the entire history of NASA.