Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.
On that day, Neil Armstrong became the first human being to ever set foot on the moon’s surface.
I recall watching the grainy footage of the event on our family’s black and white television. I also recall hearing those now infamous words spoken by Mr. Armstrong:
"That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
As an elementary school-aged boy who loved watching Star Trek, I have to tell you – I was pretty impressed by the whole thing. Actually, I still consider it pretty impressive.
At the time, I was certain it wouldn’t be too much longer before we’d all be flying around the universe on starships. I even imagined myself flipping open my "communicator" and saying, "Beam me up, Scotty!" and then, upon arriving on board, finding Mr. Spock waiting for me in the transporter room.
That was 40 years ago.
Since then, I’ve gone through quite a number of life changing experiences. Some good. Some not so good.
In those same 40 years, NASA has gone through a number of changes as well. Some good. Some not so good.
Currently NASA’s hot topic is about building a "lunar base" which would allow astronauts to remain on the moon for up to 6 months at a time by the year 2025.
After that, they’re hoping to send a "manned mission" to Mars by 2030.
There is even debate among NASA officials whether they should forego the moon altogether and just fix their sights on Mars.
Pretty ambitious goals. Unfortunately, all of that ambition comes with a hefty price tag.
According to a CNN article, NASA’s Constellation Program will cost an estimated $100 billion by 2020.
Of course, considering that NASA is one of the federal government’s bureaucracies, you can pretty much bet that it’s going to cost substantially more than $100 billion when all is said and done.
The cost wouldn’t bother me so much if it weren’t for the fact that all of NASA’s ambitions are being paid for with taxpayer dollars. And at present American’s are finding it hard enough to pay their own bills right here on planet Earth without paying to build "housing" on the moon.
For example –
Another article from CNN tells of 11-year old Zach McGuire.
Zach’s father, Tom is a licensed general contractor in Ohio. But, he hasn’t done any work since around December. In addition the last job he did was sometime last summer. However, the customer defaulted and didn’t pay.
Despite not being paid, Mr. McGuire – as the general contractor for the project – was financially liable for the building materials and for the paying of two sub-contractors.
In all, on that project Mr. McGuire ending up suffering a loss of around $30,000 due to his not being paid.
Now, with not having worked in the past six months, the McGuire family’s bills have piled up and there is a possibility that they may lose their home.
Wanting to help reduce his family’s financial obligations, Zach is selling off his toys one at a time
Doesn’t seem right, does it?
As I said up top – I loved watching Star Trek. The thought of space exploration fueled my imagination. It still does.
However, it seems to me financially irresponsible for Congress to continue spending tens of billions of dollars annually on NASA space programs, especially when so many American families have lost their jobs. Many of those families are on the verge of losing their homes. And, others have already become homeless.
I’m not saying that funding for NASA programs should be done away with completely. But perhaps a reduction in their overall funding might be in order right now. Then the tax dollars not spent on NASA could be re-directed toward helping our nation’s struggling families.
Let’s be realistic about it.
What practical benefits are Americans actually getting by NASA’s plans of going to the moon or to Mars?
It is helping put food on the tables of struggling families? It is helping to prevent foreclosures? It is providing families with affordable housing? Is it keeping American taxpayers from becoming homeless?
So, what would be the harm in having NASA postpone building the lunar base or putting off their proposed manned mission to Mars for a decade or two longer?
After all, the Moon and the planet Mars will still be there waiting there for the arrival of human beings.
On the other hand, there are tens of thousands of American families who need some type of help right now. Unless they get that help, many of them will find themselves homeless and living on the streets of our nation’s cities.
And to me, an increase in homeless American families would completely cancel out the "one giant leap for mankind" which Neil Armstrong spoke of.
I once heard a friend of mine say:
"Don’t be so heavenly minded that you’re no Earthy good."