Reasserting American Leadership in Space Act

Here’s hope and change to believe in:

As promised in a recent op-ed, Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., has introduced H.R. 1641, the “Reasserting American Leadership in Space Act” or the “REAL Space Act”. In the vernacular it is being called the “Back to the Moon Bill.”

Thus far the bill had four cosponsors, Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas, Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, and Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., Wolf’s cosponsorship is significant as he is the chairman of the on the Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee on Appropriations

The key wording of the legislation is a directive to NASA to plan to return to the moon. “The National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall plan to return to the moon by 2022 and develop a sustained human presence on the moon in order to promote exploration, commerce, science and United States preeminence in space as a stepping stone for the future exploration of Mars and other destinations. The budget requests and expenditures of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall be consistent with achieving this goal.”

The bill has a list of findings that spell out the reason why the primary mission of NASA should be a return to the moon. These range from developing technology to enhancing national security. The curious omission, often cited by supporters of a return to the moon, is resource utilization. The discovery of water and other resources on the moon suggest that it is not only a suitable venue for a human settlement, but also as a refueling stop for spacecraft bound for other destinations in the solar system.

Still, Posey’s bill is an attempt to rationalize NASA’s human space flight program. When President Barack Obama canceled the Constellation space exploration program, he also removed the central reason why NASA should have a human space flight program. Belated and vague promises of traveling to an asteroid are not taken very seriously by most space analysts and in any case lack a central rationale beyond a version of George Mallory’s reason for climbing Mount Everest, “Because it is there.”

We’ll have to overlook the fact that Sheila Jackson-Lee is a cosponsor of the bill, chalking it up to an unusual moment of sanity.  The bill will need to survive a threatened Obama veto but we’ll accept this as a step in the right direction.

Kudos to Mr. Posey and all who’ve signed on to get this thing passed.

The "Birther" Issue Gets Trumped
Woop, Here He Isn't!
  • Chico

    Houston, we have a problem.

    Sheila Jackson-Lee is a sponsor of the bill because it’s full of tasty pork for her Houston (Johnson Space Center) district.

    It appears the rest of the sponsors are also lining up for some cash for their districts. Posey represents Cape Canaveral.

    One man’s “leadership” is another man’s bacon.

    Well, the Chinese said a couple of days ago they were going to reduce their US treasury bill holdings. Where is the money going to come from if we can’t borrow it from them?

    What was that about cutting the budget? When we end the wars, rebuild U.S. infrastructure and balance the budget, get back to me about going back to the moon. Way down the priority list.

  • Jeff Medcalf

    Oh, by all that’s holy! I actually agree (mostly) with Chico on something! This is really just pork, or waste, because they do not allocate funds to do this the way we know, or allow NASA to develop cheaper ways first. Nor could we sustain the political will to fund such an effort long enough to succeed. Prizes, initiatives like commercial crew, and other efforts to replace our socialist, Cold War space program with a market approach are cheaper, more sustainable, and far more likely to work.

  • Chico

    Rick, is it possible that you’re a government contractor working on space stuff? And that this bill would enhance your personal income, long-term employment and promotion prospects?

    If so, you’re part of the problem, shilling for government spending that will directly benefit you.

  • GarandFan

    “Going to the moon” was never about science. It was about beating the Russians.

  • Aog

    I agree with comments 1-4. Any one who supports fiscal sanity or space travel should oppose this bill. Is Rick really arguing that when it comes to space flight, Socialism is a good strategy?

  • C J

    They key to space (manned and unmanned, but especially the former)is simple: Cost per pound to orbit.

    Focus on getting the cost down FIRST. A good start is getting NASA out of the launch biz.

    Take a look at what SpaceX is doing regarding cost per pound to orbit. If Falcon Heavy works out (it’s slated to be on the pad next year) it will be the world’s largest operational rocket with a cost per pound a fraction of what’s available today. There are other private companies also doing wonderful things in this field.

    I’m appalled to see the porkfest supported in Wizbang. In case you weren’t aware, this country has a spending problem, and this is just one symptom of that disease.

  • John S

    It’s a nice slap in Obama’s face, but otherwise the bill is symbolic. Sure NASA costs money but put it in perspective: NASA’s entire annual budget is less than the amount of printed dollars the Fed launders through Goldman Sachs in a single day.
    And it’s a moot point. In six months we won’t have the money to feed 200 million Americans clamoring to get food stamps.