“And you can fly
High as a kite if you want to
Faster than light if you want to
Speeding through the universe
Thinking is the best way to travel” – Michael Pinder
“Thinking Is the Best Way to Travel.” These enchanting and brilliant lyrics were written by Michael Pinder from the great Moody Blues LP “In Search of the Lost Chord”. This might have been true in 1968, and in some ways might always be true, but on May 25, 2012 another great way to travel was launched, in great part thanks to President Obama and his impeccable judgment.
What has changed, and what President Obama’s hand is in that change, is a compelling story of his foresight, his leadership, and his courage to look forward and ignore the nay-sayers.
The story starts with the President’s decision to terminate NASA’s space shuttle program – well it really wasn’t President Obama’s decision since George Bush had made the commitment to shut the shuttle in 2004. But facts aside, there was a hue and cry when Mr. Obama made the closing official in July of 2011.
One recurring theme from the Rational Majority is that our President is a chess master who thinks in the long term while his opponents don’t look past the next move. The President’s skill in making so many good decisions is not magic, it is the result of a bright and open minded man listening to all sides of an issue and making decisions based upon evaluating accurate information – indeed “thinking IS the best way to travel!
Let’s look at the other side for a moment. When the NASA announcement was made, potential presidential candidate Rick Perry from Texas exemplified the outcry of the opposition. Perry said, “The Obama administration continues to lead federal agencies and programs astray,” opined the Governor admonishing the administration to define its vision of NASA's mission and return to what he called the agency's "core purpose of manned space exploration."
Under the banner that the space program would be outsourced, primarily to Russia, Fox News gleefully furthered a report from a Florida daily that said “… according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel, the forthcoming budget — which the president will announce in detail during tonight's State of the Union address — will include no funding for lunar landers, no moon bases, and no Constellation program at all.”
Fox News continues “Once the shuttle completes its final mission, NASA will have no way of its own to bring men into space or supplies to the Space Station — arguably a hole in our ability to remain competitive in the field of space exploration.” By hind sight this entire article is precious to read (see the
foxnews.com link below). From today’s position they were on the wrong side of almost every point they make in the article.
Contrary to the dire predictions and the misguided reasoning from critics, the President knew the game board and he quietly proceeded to another checkmate. Obama’s mission was to turn George Bush’s losing strategy to gut the program after he was out of office into a win for America. He did this by doing exactly the opposite of what the opposition claims about him - and what they would love if they had come up with it – he switch a government program to private capitalist firms.
Five firms are presently competing to replace NASA in this aspect of the space program, and they will do America proud. SpaceX nosed into the lead by being the first private company to successfully do what only a handful of governments have done in the past, delivering a payload of supplies to the international space station.
The Sun Sentinel reported on May 29, 2012 that “A successful SpaceX mission will move NASA closer to realizing President Barack Obama's visionary goal: privatizing the job of ferrying cargo, and eventually crews, to the station. The pursuit of that goal is already spurring the growth of the commercial space industry, an up-and-coming sector in Florida's economy.”
But that’s not all, the report continues, “It'll also allow NASA to concentrate more of its limited resources on sending astronauts to more distant destinations — perhaps the moon, or asteroids, or Mars. Such an effort is more likely to yield the kind of scientific and technological breakthroughs that marked the U.S. space program in the Apollo era, and are vital to America's global economic leadership.”