Earlier this week I opined the death of NASA, and a lot of you responded by insisting that even though they were no longer well funded enough to do manned space exploration, their new mandate of exploration of the solar system’s planets by robot was as good or better than anything they could have done with manned missions. Bad news: That may be dead too.
The Washington Times reports that the Obama administration plans to end all planetary exploration by NASA and the United States of America, by the year 2013. Worse, word is that they plan to position the space astronomy program for destruction too. American won’t just stop exploring outer space, we aren’t even going to look at it anymore.
The story published in the Washington Times doesn’t cite any sources and merely says that this “leaked out” in the Obama administration’s budget, so we’ll need more details before we can call this a done deal. But, this move isn’t entirely unexpected, and seems pretty much in keeping with the Obama administration’s overall attitude towards space exploration in recent years.
If this happens, it’ll be the complete and total end of NASA and the American space program. This isn’t just scaling back or mothballing the shuttles, this is the total abandonment of exploration of any kind.
These are dark and depressing times.
UPDATE! Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science division spoke out to Space News on the subject of the Times editorial. He says, “It is not true the planetary program is being killed.” He didn’t elaborate any further and to me that’s not enough to entirely discount the Washington Times piece, at least not yet. The Obama administration’s budget was leaked, as in it hasn’t been officially released. It’s entirely possible that even if they were planning to shut him down, he might not know about it yet. More on this as it develops.