Remember the last time we had a Texas governor for President? Didn't that go well?
Well, let's not repeat that egregious misstep.
Rick Perry has opined about many things and shown himself to be less than smart, but his latest tirade attempts to blame the current president (in office 2 years and 6 months) for decisions that are the result of decades of poor political leadership on space issues and gross mismanagement at NASA.
"Forty-two years ago yesterday, America captured the world's imagination by putting a man on the moon, highlighting an era of excellence in space exploration. Unfortunately, with the final landing of the Shuttle Atlantis and no indication of plans for future missions, this administration has set a significantly different milestone by shutting down our nation's legacy of leadership in human spaceflight and exploration, leaving American astronauts with no alternative but to hitchhike into space.
"The Obama Administration continues to lead federal agencies and programs astray, this time forcing NASA away from its original purpose of space exploration, and ignoring its groundbreaking past and enormous future potential. It is time to restore NASA to its core purpose of manned space exploration, and to define our vision for 21st Century space exploration, not in terms of what we cannot do, but instead in terms of what we will do."
Yes, how dare President Obama shut down a shuttle program (photo: Shuttle re-entry to earth taken from the ISS) that features hardware that was conceptualized in the 60's, designed and built in the 70's and flown for 30 years! The flight computers on the shuttle are less powerful than a Commodore 64. They are barely better than a four function calculator. When you consider all the other systems on the airplane that cost a fortune to maintain and the fragility of the shuttle overall, it's remarkable that it has been as successful as it has been and that it lasted so long.
Is Rick Perry driving a 1981 Chevy Monte Carlo with a tank of rocket fuel in the trunk that could explode any minute? I don't think so.
Programs like the Space Shuttle take 20 years to come to fruition, so the time to be working on it was... 1990. Even 1980. But was it? Hell no. The political process gets worse and worse for pushing through visionary programs that look ahead decades. In retrospect it's amazing the shuttle managed to stay funded through the turmoil of the seventies.
So if there's blame to be laid at anyone's feet it should be laid at the feet of Bush Sr., Clinton and Bush Jr. and the Congressional members of the same era for 20 years of a spectacular collective failure to see a way forward and fund it. It wouldn't have hurt them to appoint NASA amdinistrators who weren't political flacks either.
And let's not forget where NASA Mission Control is located... Pork barrel politics coninues unabated.