It’s an election year here in the United States. As a blogger, I’m pretty sure I am legally obligated to rant about politics during an election year. Also, as I continue my research about space, I am becoming increasingly aware of how American politics and space exploration are intertwined.
First off, our Solar System is divided between red planets and blue planets.
The partisan divide on space exploration might surprise you. Republicans, famous for wanting to reduce spending everywhere possible, tend to support NASA; Democrats, who generally support more government spending, usually try to cut NASA’s budget.
As an example, you may recall that Newt Gingrich, former Republican Speaker of the House, not only wanted America to return to the Moon but also wanted to make the Moon America’s 51st state. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama put and end to the space shuttle program.
I want to be fair here. When the Obama Administration canceled the space shuttle program, I was disappointed, but that decision paved the way for private companies like SpaceX to get into the space exploration game, which will probably be a good thing in the long run. And as much as I do want America to return to the Moon, that whole 51st state idea was a bit kooky.
Still, Republicans are generally more supportive of NASA than Democrats (except when NASA is doing climate change research). Please do not assume that this makes me a Republican. I have strong opinions about a number of other political issues. Space exploration actually ranks pretty low on my list of priorities when I vote in federal elections.
Fortunately, you don’t have to vote Republican to show your support for space exploration. There are other options, which I’ll review in greater detail on Wednesday.