(MSNBC) The Bush administration's focus on big, expensive space missions is starving budgets for some of NASA's most productive small-scale science programs, astronomers told the U.S. Congress on Thursday.
"The 2007 budget is tilted to an unhealthy extent to large missions," said Joseph Taylor, who helped craft a 10-year survey for astrophysics.
Taylor argues that by focusing on larger projects and cutting others, NASA is losing talent in an already shrinking pool of scientists employed by the agency.
Although a noble defense of the smaller projects, the truth is that unless we are able to establish colonies off world, observing the Universe from afar will not contribute much towards the advancement of our species.
Despite the increase of the budget that NASA received from the President (up to $16.8 billion) NASA is unable to perform all of the former duties before Bush gave them direction. One only has to look at the latest folly being suggested for the ISS to realize how aimless our agency has become when exploring the final frontier.
This new vision by Bush does not in any way diminish the importance of the other programs (such as the search for extra terrestrial life and Earth like worlds). But unless we are able to leave this earthen cradle behind, then those programs will be of no major benefit for the human race.
NASA's pockets are not as deep as the Pentagon's, and unless some sacrifices are made. Otherwise humanity will be forever gazing at the stars and visiting these planets via Star Trek instead of viewing them in person.
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