Ever since the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) released its report, there's been a number of pundits on all sides of the political debate who act as if there is no compelling reason for human beings to be in space. It's as if all was said and done by the end of the Apollo program, and everything else has been a pure waste of tax dollars.
Never mind the myriad numbers of technological wonders that have been possible because of NASA.
Never mind the fact that life on Earth will not last forever, and that we need to start making the first steps off the planet now.
Never mind the urge to explore and discover which has driven Western Civilization for 600 years.
Well, fuck the doubters and their lowered expectations. This is the 21st Century, and implicit in Kennedy's announcement that the US would put a man on the moon within a decade was a firm commitment to space exploration--by humans!--that would outlive the moon program.
If only NASA could have a percent of the budget that the Pentagon enjoys! We'd have permanent bases on Mars and on the Moon, and ships around Jupiter, if only Congress would stop cutting NASA's budget and start adding some true support, rather than pointing fingers every time something goes wrong. Shit, if people were as truly concerned about the potential of losing life when exploring space, then we wouldn't have tolerated a war with Iraq since the potential for lost life would be far greater--not measured as odds or percentages, but as body bags.
It's from that point of view that I really appreciate this essay on the fact that NASA has a well established vision for space exploration, one that is worthy of being backed, and that the nay-sayers should go find something truly worth denigrating as worthless. Like, say, their jobs.