$445 million to go 25 miles up ...

Quite a price tag, considering two students from MIT did nearly that for about $150.
I'm being facetious, of course. Yes, the launch of Ares I-X was exciting (I quietly turned up the newsroom TV and watched while no one else paid attention). And yes, I'm sure the scientists at NASA will have a ton of data to pour through.
But $445 million? For one flight? On a project whose budget is arguably in even greater jeopardy than it was under former President Bush?
I don't get it. NASA seems content to aimlessly waft along with the Constellation project. There's the vague goal of returning to the moon around 2020, nearly 50 years after Apollo 17. And maybe, just maybe ... I'll see an American on Mars before I turn 60.
But I'm not holding my breadth. It's becoming clearer and clearer NASA can't function in a world without the cold war as a backdrop. As Americans combat terrorism, launching a rocket to the moon doesn't really matter anymore. It's not a symbol of our national unity and strength, it's a symbol of our decadence. And, in my opinion, it's a symbol of our scientific stagnation.
In the coming years where going to see the private sector play a larger and larger role in the American space race. That's a good thing. That's something that lets me look up at the stars and hope. And in a world without the iron curtain, it could be the only thing keeping NASA on their toes.

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