I love NASA. It’s the most important government agency that we have – less for what it practically provides for Americans and more for what it provides for humanity. I’ve written about that before, so there’s no need to rehash those feelings.
Despite all the problems facing the agency (my partner in crime here on the website wants to shut NASA down completely), it provides our best hope for true international cooperation. This from a USA Today article:
The ISS partners endured the grounding of the shuttles after the Columbia accident, cancellation of station components because of money and time limits, and the reshaping of U.S. space policy toward missions to the moon and Mars. Still, Griffin said his initial meetings with his counterparts from Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan only give him hope for future world space coalitions.
The fact is the agency is completely under funded for the task at hand – which is the exploration of space. This is a dangerous and difficult expedition, and there is absolutely no reason that the greatest space agency on the planet should have to beg for dimes and nickels from Congress.
Hamstrung somewhat by requirements that he not disclose internal Bush Administration discussions about the 2007 budget, Griffin tried to quell lingering worries that even more shuttle flights might have to be cut to balance the budget later this decade.
Whatever you may think about our current president, his administration has helped put the spotlight back on NASA (something his father tried, and failed, to do). However, that spotlight has upped the international ante. With our diplomatic relations, to some extent, in tatters around the world, the space station is the one place which we can point to with some pride. And that makes it all the more important to maintain our leadership position with space exploration.