Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.

The federal government’s blank check

Three articles this morning about actions taken by Congress in connection with the budgets for NASA and NOAA illustrate the bankrupt nature of our federal government.

The first story describes how several legislators from the House Appropriations Committee have inserted amendments into their budget bill that will restore a $10 million NASA climate monitoring program that the Trump administration had shut down.

The second story describes how that same budget bill generously funds both NASA and NOAA at levels far above their own requests.

Overall, the bill provides $21.546 billion for NASA, an increase of more than $1.6 billion above the request and $810 million more than FY2018.

NOAA’s satellite programs do well in the appropriations bill, too.

What is important about this is that it is par for the course. This is what happens with every budget bill before Congress. No program can be cut. Every program gets everything it wants, and more. And the increases come from both sides of the aisle. While it is common knowledge that Democratic Party policy always stands for more government spending, the Republican stance that they are for smaller government is generally a lie. Once in Congress they become big spenders, as shown by the third story.

[T]he message from Cruz and Nelson was that only Congress will decide when it is time to end U.S. Government funding of ISS. As Cruz said in his opening statement, “No where in federal statute is there a request from Congress seeking a hard deadline to end federal support of ISS, to cross our fingers and hope for the best. … As long as Article I of the Constitution remains intact, it will be Congress that is the final arbiter of how long the ISS receives federal funding.”

Nelson said that the “good news” in the ISS Transition Report that ultimately was submitted to Congress showed that ISS “has plenty of operational life left.” The report said that major components of the ISS had been certified for operation until at least 2028 “and probably beyond.”

The two Senators made their opposition to ending government support for ISS in 2025 known as soon as the Administration revealed the proposal. Today, Cruz said that although he and Nelson disagree on many issues, on this one they are “on the same page.”

Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was elected as a tea party Republican who was there to reduce the size of government. In 2016 he ran for president, and came very close to getting the nomination running on a platform aimed at eliminating what he called “the Washington cartel” of corruption that was bankrupting the nation.

Now he is in Congress pushing pork and spending.

The real source of the problem is that Congress has a blank check. What they spend is entirely divorced from the tax dollars the government brings in. The result is endless deficits and a ballooning federal debt with no sign of it ever being brought under control.

Both Cruz and Nelson are up for re-election in 2018. While Bill Nelson (D-Florida) is in big trouble in his reelection campaign, Cruz appears a safe bet. That he appears despite this to be abandoning his tea party roots during this campaign illustrates well the disaster that is Washington. It seems capable of corrupting anyone who enters it.

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  • mkent

    Cruz may well be abandoning his fiscal restraint, but this article doesn’t show it. It is folly to ditch the ISS before a replacement is in orbit, and there is no chance whatsoever that a replacement will be in orbit by 2025.

    ISS is too central to the commercialization of manned space to be ditched for DSG (or LOP-G, or whatever they’re calling it now).

    Bill and Ted (heh!) are 100% correct on this one.

  • Edward

    mkent wrote: “there is no chance whatsoever that a replacement will be in orbit by 2025.

    I suspect that NASA is expecting the commercial space stations (Bigelow, Ixion, Axiom, etc.) to be the next generation of low Earth orbit space stations.

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