Which is good because the old era is most certainly ending. As stated, the return trip to the moon by NASA has been effectively killed, with funds being directed elsewhere. The shuttle is also ending and in general Obama wants NASA to look more at commercial space transport options. NASA has proven capable of safely and regularly putting people and items in space, but that is not its job as far as I am concerned. Its job is to do new and wonderful things with space and aeronautics technology, and if that means handing over the entry-to-orbit systems to someone else so that they can focus on new things to do once we get there, then I am excited.
Other things that will hopefully have a trickle down effect include more robotic exploration. Space robotics is arguably a different field from aerial, terrestrial and aquatic robotics, but the impact of the research going into space robotics will be felt everywhere. I am mostly looking at what I hope will be an increase in distributed systems within robotics, inter-robot communication processes and in general teamwork and workload sharing. Secretly I am just hoping more and more robotics’ job are created, because how cool would it be to say you work at NASA! Ok, maybe only I care about that.
Ok, sorry for the rambling on space exploration. I have always just loved it as a kid and have continued to follow it, and even when people always think of NASA failures, they never seem to remember NASA successes, like their ability to keep a robot alive on Mars for going on six years when it had a life expectancy of 90 days. Or that fact that they have helped design and launch hundreds of satellites, or put people on the moon… the list could continue. So here’s to hoping this new budget is a step towards a new, agile NASA, refocused on their original goal: exploring the unknown; not playing space bus.
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