By Phil Kiver
“This country was not built by those who waited and rested, and looked behind them.” On September 12th 1962. President John F. Kennedy said these words. “The exploration of space will go ahead whether we join in it or not.
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Since its creation, America has led the world in many endeavors. In July of 1969, The United States was the first nation to put a man on the moon. Our nation must continue to fund the operation and preservation of the International Space Station (ISS) to continue that leadership. Since the launch of the first component of the ISS on November 20th, 1998, this human outpost in a low earth orbit has continued to increase our understanding of life in space on an explosive trajectory. Many of the continuing experiments will not even conclude before the proposed scheduled cessation of U.S. funding. NASA’s FY 2019 budget proposal included plans to end funding for the International Space Station by 2025 and leaves open the possibility of handing over that valuable taxpayer investment to private companies. Conservatives, like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have voiced strong opposition this plan.
In addition to the incredible science advancements, the ISS is a tremendous example of how we Earthlings will work together with the international community as we transition to even more challenging missions in deep space. Let’s be honest when we establish a colony on Mars is shouldn’t take much longer than nine months for the first human Martian to be born. President Kennedy said in 1962, “The eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and the planets beyond…and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest but by a banner of freedom and peace.” Abandoning Space Station Would Help Russia and China according to Sen. Cruz, “Prematurely canceling a program for political reasons costs jobs and wastes billions of dollars.”
Many in Congress believe that ceding the ISS to China and Russia would be a strategic mistake, as well as a retreat from American leadership in space exploration. Sen. Cruz added. “We cannot afford to continue to pursue policies that have consequences of creating gaps in capability, that send $3 1/2 billion in taxpayer money to the Russian government, or that create a leadership vacuum in low-earth orbit that provides a window of opportunity for the Chinese to capitalize on it.” Cruz said China would have a manned space station by 2022.
Many recognize that the United States government’s plan to defund the ISS will not cease Russia, China and other nations from the space race. In President Kennedy’s famous “Moon Speech” at Rice University of Texas in September of 1962 he explained, “The exploration of space will go ahead whether we join in it or not…No nation that expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space.” Kennedy is speaking directly to the competition of China and Russia nearly fifty-six years from the past.
Some members of Congress said they would vigorously oppose any plan that ends the station’s life prematurely. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said the decision to end funding for it was the result of “numskulls” at the Office of Management and Budget.
The time is rapidly approaching when we will be sending the first of many manned missions to Mars. We will need the physical presence of the ISS as well as its’ continued lessons to guide us. Let’s continue the quest of President Kennedy who argued that with space travel — “We choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” It may not be easy and it may cost some cash, but it is one of the worthwhile investments our government can make for the future of humanity.
Dr. Phil Kiver is a US Army veteran of Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is a graduate American Military University and Henley-Putnam School of Strategic Studies.
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