In Fast Company’s China Gears Up for Lunar Space Race With World’s Biggest Rocket Factory, China is setting its sites on winning the next Moon Race. Meanwhile, in Washington the Administration wants to let a thousand commercial space companies bloom even as it ignores the will of Congress by not following either in spirit or letter the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. At least, that’s the charitable explanation for the disconnect between the President’s 2012 NASA Budget and the 2010 NASA Act that the President signed last fall. Last week, in separate testimony before the House Space Appropriations and Authorization committees, NASA Administrator Bolden made clear that he didn’t “get it” that Congress had spoken to what the nation’s space policy would be when it passed the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. Instead, NASA’s budget inverts the policy priorities outlined by Congress in the 2010 Act so that national space is sacrificed in favor of continued subsidies for commercial space.
While taking the same basic path that the Administration took last year, one is left guessing that the Administration must believe that this time, unlike in 2010, the battle to outsource our nation’s human space flight program will turn-out differently. The response from Congress, as evidenced from the hearings of both of the House committees last week, must be leaving some in the Administration with a sense of deja vu all over again. If insanity is indeed defined as doing the same thing but expecting a different outcome, it may be time to hold a mental competency hearing for some in the Administration responsible for developing its 2012 NASA Budget.
A Moon race between China and the US will bring out the best of both nations…well, it will if NASA’s leadership ever decides to follow the laws concerning NASA policy as handed down by Congress. Otherwise, it’s China’s race to loose only if it yanks defeat from the jaws of victory. And for those who wish to walk on the lunar surface again, it may be time to start learning Mandarin, for which there are several good iPhone apps.