Space travel may seem a little far afield from my customary topics, but considering that funding for NASA involves the Spending Clause, I think the law angle’s covered. Now, on to the awesomeness! I had the honor of attending the NASA Tweetup on May 13 and 14 at Kennedy Space Center. The agenda included remarks from Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, Chief Technologist Robert Braun, Astronauts Janice Voss and Dave Wolf, and so many other incredibly intelligent and articulate people, but that wasn’t the best part.
One-hundred fifty lucky Tweeters (myself included) got to witness the launch of STS-132 Atlantis from the press area, a mere three miles from the launch site. Watching liftoff shoulder to shoulder with space fanatics and members of the press was awe inspiring and humbling all at once. As I learned at the Tweetup, NASA employs 18,000 people. I’m sure it took every one of them to get the shuttle off safely!
Now that the giddiness has worn off, I wanted to take a moment to reiterate the importance of space exploration. When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, NASA’s budget was fully 10 percent of the national budget. Today it constitutes less than 1 percent. Of course, this type of technology is expensive, but as Equipment Specialist Ron Woods observed “every dollar spent on space technology goes right back into the pockets of the American people.”
For those who aren’t interested in space exploration or don’t think the expense of the space program is justified, consider what NASA is studying from space: EARTH. Our planet’s environment, our atmosphere, technology that might help us to preserve our planet so we can continue living here despite our inadvertently damaging our precious orb over the course of industrialization.
I’m a huge NASA fan and, although I’ll miss the shuttle program, Lori Garver and Robert Braun made the case for moving forward and developing new technologies and innovations that will bring our space program into the next decade. If you need more persuasion, follow @NASA, @BobbyBraun_NASA and @Lori_Garver on Twitter. I also recommend following Jon Cowart (@Rocky_Sci), because he’s one funny NASA guy!
And NASA take note: if you’re starting a program to send lawyers into space, Tweet me!