In the run-up to the presidential primary, Floridians heard a lot of insults but relatively little about the issues that really matter to our state. We deserved more of an explanation of where the presidential candidates stand on NASA, as well as a firm commitment to adequately fund the next generation of space exploration.
NASA often becomes a punching bag when administrations change, and that’s why space must be on the agenda during this presidential election.
This administration has admirably set in motion new initiatives in both low-earth orbit commercial space operations and deep space and interplanetary exploration. Under this approach, NASA has returned to its core mission of reaching for the stars. The agency that brought man to the moon could focus on taking humans to Mars. Its scientists, engineers and industry partners were freed up to build the heavy lift rocket — NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS), which will carry a crew capsule to Mars and beyond.
As NASA focuses on completing the SLS, private companies are taking over the job of ferrying crews and cargo into low-earth orbit. With NASA’s help, these companies are building new spacecraft and inventing new flight technologies. These programs have created thousands of jobs, and inspired unprecedented private sector investments. Companies vie to make space flight as routine as airplane travel is today.
Those seeking to be our next president should be asked if they are committed to America’s leadership in space. Do they believe we should have continuity in our long-term space program? As president, will they invest in the programs like SLS that will allow astronauts to travel to Mars and beyond?
The next president has the opportunity to launch the next era of human space exploration. Let’s hope wisdom prevails.
Florida A&M University,