We cannot afford to lose our lead among space-faring nations. Narrowing the gap between the shuttle and Orion would reduce the problem of holding on to a skilled workforce and help the United States maintain its lead in space exploration, along with the related science and technology that drives economic growth. U.S. dominance in space hasn’t been lost yet, but it is definitely eroding.
What we really need is a fix for the five-year hiatus, not a band-aid. That means both extending the life of the shuttle and moving the launch date for Orion forward. NASA needs a $2 billion appropriation to extend the life of the shuttle for 18 to 24 months, and an additional $2 billion to move the first flight of Orion closer by 18 to 24 months.
Four billion dollars is a drop in the bucket for a $3 trillion federal budget and a $13 trillion economy. The money would enable us to maintain world leadership in a range of technologies essential for our future well-being and allow us to continue to sit at the top of the technical pyramid. As the richest country on the face of the Earth do we really want to be dependent on Russia to launch our astronauts into space? I think not!
Again, I think that McCain is the candidate of choice if the space program is going to survive the gap.