Why has the United States Government Dragged its Feet in Space Exploration Advancements?
Think Piece/Open Discussion
Global superpowers pursued space all throughout the 1950s and the 1960s. While the Soviets were the first to send a man into space, the United States was the first to send men to the moon. After Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon in 1969, Nixon greatly reduced the budget for NASA in an attempt to reduce tensions with the Soviet Union to use the expenditures elsewhere.
Two decades later, the Soviet Union collapsed. The collapse created the United States as a global hegemon in military power, and the United States was far beyond any other space program on Earth. It seemed as if the space race might be reinvigorated in 1999 when the ISS launched in collaboration between NASA, the newly formed Russian government, and several other nations.
Since the ISS launched, it has been 23 years and the United States government has dragged its feet greatly on further developments. Earlier plans, such as bases on the moon or on mars, and rotating space stations with artificial gravity, were shuttled or pushed back again and again. Currently, there are no known plans for a United States successor to the ISS when it goes out of repair in 2031.
Private companies like SpaceX are taking the reigns from NASA for space travel now. The Chinese government also has its own space station in the form of the Tiangog Space Station. However, the United States has no space station of its own. It seems possible that the United States may become behind China in establishing a moon base. This has brought on the question: Why has the space industry been a low priority for contemporary politicians relative to the space race in the 1960s?
The United States civilian space program has always been a cut-out for high-tech defense spending. Any system that NASA plays with ends up becoming a target of the Department of Defense for takeover. This usually occurs once the project comes to maturity. They tried to take over the Space Shuttle and they also attempted to snap up the limited number of SLS launches too.
SLS just happens to be the perfect example of the cash cow that NASA has now become. The real job of SLS is to push a generation of aerospace engineers to retirement so that the United States maintains its capabilities — in theory at least. In ten years, they have failed to get a single rocket to work right, they can’t do it.
I wouldn’t say I am wrong. You can see the entire old-space and Department of Defense industry fighting back in mortal fear against SpaceX. SpaceX is strictly focused on fast development and mass production that the rest of the industry cannot keep up with. Instead of truing to keep up, they spent ten years trying to hold SpaceX back. This is because they have more lawyers and accountants than they do engineers now.