This commercial is deliberately over the top, in a hilarious sort of way. Nevertheless, its tag line is a message NASA (and its political masters) ought to keep in mind.

NASA has been quietly downsizing the astronaut office, and actual flight opportunities have been downsized greatly. The expensive Orion capsule and Space Launch System won’t help the flight rate any. If this trend continues, it will become a problem for NASA. At some point, taxpayers will start to ask why they are spending so much money on a space agency that’s sending almost no one into space.

Whenever these facts are mentioned, NASA responds by pointing out how much progress is being made in the unmanned space-science side. (The Curiosity rover is the current poster boy for this.)

It’s true that NASA’s unmanned programs have been doing better, but robots don’t vote and robots don’t pay taxes. The people who do want (and deserve) more than that.

As Scott Glenn, playing Alan Shepard, said in The Right Stuff, “You see those people out there? They all want to see Buck Rogers, and that’s us.”

Nobody throws a ticker-tape parade for robots.

And nothing beats an astronaut.

Written by Astro1 on January 13th, 2013 , Space Exploration (General), Space Policy and Management

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    Ollyoop commented

    The greatest days of NASA are sadly behind it, and will remain that way until this country gets back on the track that made us great in the first place. Our current president is not capable of ‘greatness’ in any sense of the word so prepare for at least another four years of mediocrity, and little, or no American Space Program. Of course by 2016 any kind of meaningful space program will probably be financially out of reach!

    January 15, 2013 at 9:40 am
      admin commented

      You assume that there is only one American space program, and it’s limited to NASA.

      By 2016, we will have hundreds, perhaps thousands of new astronauts.

      The only question is how many of them will work for NASA. There has been a lack of vision there, but it’s not limited to one President or one party. The current direction was set by George W. Bush in 2004 and has continued, with minor course corrections, ever since.

      January 15, 2013 at 3:23 pm