When health care and space meet

At first, space would be one of the least likely areas to get tangled into the shoutfest, er, debate about health care that’s been raging the last few weeks in town hall meetings, the Internet, and cable TV. (In space, no one can hear you scream, right?) No such luck. On Wednesday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that the president “would orbit the moon if he thought it would help,” according to CBS News. “We’ll get in a rocket and fly around the moon if that’s what it takes to get people together.” Of course, we’d a need a rocket and spacecraft capable of doing that, which might be a long time coming in some of the scenarios being considered by the Augustine committee.

Then there was Congressman Barney Frank’s now-famous putdown of a town hall speaker: “On what planet do you spend most of your time?” Ironic, to some degree, coming from Frank, given his past opposition to some aspects of space exploration, notably human spaceflight, such as in this debate last October. To think that with more resources NASA might be better able to answer Frank’s question…

Finally, the Space Frontier Foundation issued a press release (not available on their web site, as best as I could find) with this provocative title: “Ares Needs a Death Panel”, a reference to one of the most controversial claims about the proposed health care reforms. Other than one quote from Foundation co-founder Rick Tumlinson (“Pouring more money into Ares now is the equivalent of giving a taxpayer-funded I.V. to a corpse.”) the release doesn’t stick to the health care theme—a wise choice, perhaps, given the visceral reactions the phrase “death panels” can generate these days.

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