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NASA should be more of a priority

To date, the United States has spent about $154.5 billion on the war in Iraq, according to costofwar.com. That’s enough money to have provided 7.5 million students with four-year scholarships to public universities. This just goes to show you the amount of money the government can come up with when it really wants to accomplish something.

Another thing President Bush has been almost fanatical about is getting humans back into space. He has announced his intentions to have manned missions to both the moon and Mars, so naturally you’d think that he’d be pumping copious amounts of money into research programs such as NASA. While in his proposed budget, Bush does give a slight increase in funding to NASA, it’s obvious that once again, Bush only has a one-track mind. His only goal for NASA is space exploration and nothing else.

Under the proposed budget, the NASA Glenn Research Center — one of the largest employers in Northeast Ohio — would lose about a fifth of its funding, forcing the center to cut 700 jobs, nearly a third of its workforce. All because Bush can’t get his priorities straight.

The programs whose funding is getting cut from the research center revolve around finding ways to clean-up emissions released from jet engines. Is this because this type of research isn’t important?

Certainly not. It’s because Bush is never able to see the big picture.

Because the administration can’t see beyond their petty goals, the American public gets the shaft. What does Bush suggest we do with the 700 scientists and engineers that are going to be laid off? Perhaps they can scoop up one of those minimum wage jobs that Bush “created.” They’ll just have to pray that Target is in the market for a rocket scientist.

It’s amazing what $118 million can do. It can help boost the economy in Northeast Ohio and give funding toward programs that research aircraft de-icing and propulsion, or it can provide 0.0007% of the cost of a war which was begun under false pretenses.

Wouldn’t it be in Bush’s best interest to have as many researchers working for NASA as possible? A year ago this month, the Columbia spacecraft disintegrated as it reentered the Earth’s atmosphere, killing seven people. This happened because of a design flaw, which allowed a piece of insulation jettison off of the fuel tank and slammed into the wing.

With mistakes like this found throughout the history of space travel, wouldn’t it make more sense to have more researchers on staff who could feasibly locate these errors before sending spacecraft up? The government is putting huge demands on NASA yet is slashing funding to one of its branches. It’s hypocritical.

In the end, why should the American people suffer all of these cuts when we know the money could be available if it were only one of the Bush administration’s pet projects? Perhaps all Chief NASA Scientist James B. Garvin needs to do to get the funding he needs from the Bush administration is claim that the Hubble Space Telescope (whose budget was also slashed) is actually a weapon of mass destruction. Then he, too, could get $154.5 billion, and NASA could finally fully fund all of its programs and then some.

We may be onto something.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose members are listed to the left.