Captain Jon McBride,a long-serving pilot of spaceships of NASA on Tuesday termed the Obama administration’s proposal to cut budget for it’s Mars exploration and scrapping of the plan of returning to moon stupid and said the US would lose its prominence in science if this trend continues.
Reacting to President Barack Obama’s decision of dropping Constellation missionconstellation,the return-to-moon mission announced by his predecessor George Bush in 2005,McBride said,That is stupid. NASA gives highest return on investment. It returns seven dollars on every dollar invested on it. It has invented 40,000 technologies. If I were president,I would not have done that. The West Virginia-based captain was talking to The Indian Express on the sidelines of a function at a school here on Tuesday.
Obama had scrapped the multi-billion Constellation mission in 2010 as part of his budget cuts and has proposed in his 2013 budget plans to slash NASAs robotic exploration of the solar system by 20 per cent,to $1.2 billion. The latest cut is likely to hit the space agency’s scheduled Mars missions in 2016 and 2018.
NASA’s budget was 1.1 per cent of federal budget 20 years ago. Now,it is 0.70 per cent. I call this a systemic melt down. The President says he has to cut funds to cut public debt. The debt is a concern but he could look other means to manage it, McBride said.
MacBride was lead chase pilot of the maiden voyage of space-shuttle Columbia in 1981. He had also piloted the sixth flight of space-shuttle Challenger in 1984.
He expressed concern that if the same trend of fund cutting continued,the US would loose its lead in space science to China.
We would lose our prominence in science. China has plans of sending astronauts to the moon by 2018. We will not be leaders any more. China will rule the space and one who rules the space,rules the earth, the 79-year-old captain said. McBride retired from NASA and the US navy in 1989.
On ending its shuttle programme by NASA,Macbride said this may lead to abandoning of International Space Station (ISS). The Russian Soyuz,which presently is the only shuttle to reach the ISS,has been a single point failure. Situation may arise when we will have to abandon the space station, he said.
Concerns about safety of astronauts had become a point of
debate after a Soyuz rocket carrying cargo to ISS crashed in last August.
China has already developed the capability to send cosmonauts in the space and also achieved docking of a shuttle with a module in the space last year.