SpaceDaily has an interesting opinion piece about NASA’s role in the future of space exploration. Most intriguing is the author himself; he’s a scientist who was part of the Apollo program, which gives him real credibility in these matters.
UPDATE: I think this is the leading edge of a group of dire, bitter pronouncements about NASA. Just remember, folks, NASA isn’t the only way into space.
Be sure to read the entire article, but my take on it is this: if we’re really going to explore the solar system to any useful extent, it will have to be done without (or in spite of) NASA’s help. Government funding just doesn’t have enough stamina to support real work in space. 30 years of committing to, then cutting back, expensive programs has proven that beyond a doubt. Some NASA projects (like Hubble) have been stunning successes, but no manned program in the last 30 years has even lived up to expectations.
I wish the author had taken his op-ed piece to the next logical conclusion, but I’ll do that here instead. The future of humans in space lies in the hands of those who wish to go exploring. Groups like the Mars Society, the Lunar Underground, and the Planetary Society, paired with companies like SpaceDev, Scaled Composites, and Space Adventures, can answer the call of prizes like the X Prize to get folks into space and onto other planets. From there, we’ll do what we have for centuries; eke out a living, make lots of mistakes, and live, live, live!