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Opening Arguments

Space shot

Even revered former astronauts get caught up in the partisan divide:

When President Barack Obama finally details (and defends) his plan for the future of manned spaceflight in Florida this Thursday, he will face opposition from a slew of Apollo-era astronauts who are disappointed that the budget cuts near-term plans for a moonshot. But one lunar-walking astronaut will be in the president's corner—Buzz Aldrin.

Whether you like Obama's proposal or not depends on whether you're even in favor of federal expenditures for space exploration. I am, so I remain, as before, cautiously optimistic. It's good that the buget will be expanded and good that some stuff will be handed off to private contractors. And I like the plan to make Mars the next tangible goal, although I'm not sure it can be accomplished by skipping a return to the moon. Some critics in the conservative community doubt Obama's commitment to space and think he's just putting off all the important stuff so far into the future that we'll forget about. Such a move wouldn't be entirely shocking, but I'm not quite that cynical yet.