The Presidents Space Program
I support astronomical exploration but it is very clear that the idea of sending humans back into space as proposed by Bush yesterday is fundamentally flawed.
It turns out the Bush administration has been in talks with Halliburton, Shell, and Baker Hughes among others about the provision of space exploration. There is considerable argument that the real purpose is to obtain minerals from Moon and further colonies. In particular Helium 3 is said to be a particular goal, with the demand likened to the 1840s gold rush.
Rather than launching a program of massively cutting energy consumption in the U.S.A (the major consumer of the world's resources), there is instead a push to even more expensive means of energy consumption (having to obtain such rare mineral resources from other astronomical bodies). Implicit in this project is the exclusivity: only American companies will have the resources (paid for by the U.S. tax payer) to obtain such bounty. It is simply a 21st century version of colonialism, replacing wooden ships with space ships.
The Bush proposal completely ignores all the excellent progress made in communications technology, computer science, robotics, computer vision and other sciences used in robotic exploration of other planets, most obviously shown in the Mars explorer program. It instead proposes to put peoples lives at risk (last count: 7 more dead astronauts, and currently two stranded ones). It's noticeable that in the field of the extension of U.S. military power, it is a goal to use unmanned vehicles (e.g unmanned flying drones assassinating Yemenis) to avoid the loss of human life, yet it is an acceptable risk to put people in space when the benefactors are to be large U.S. corporations.
For those who may not remember, the U.S.S.R sent several unmanned explorers to Venus many years ago at a fraction of the cost of what is proposed to be spent on the Mars and Moon projects. The real issue is whether science, with it's process of peer review, will be allowed to be pursed towards the real gathering of knowledge, or whether this will be another feel-good flag planting episode in the pursuit of overshadowing the Kennedy administrations space project.