The AP article also noted that Bolden’s ambitions appear to be practically boundless. “I did grow up watching Buck Rogers, and Buck Rogers didn’t stop at Mars,” he told Borenstein. But Bolden will have to overcome serious financial, political, and technological hurdles to even put humans back the moon, according to a good rundown of challenges to future spaceflight in The New York Times last week. “No bucks, no Buck Rogers,” Dr. John Olson, who coordinates the lunar program within NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, told reporter Kenneth Chang.
President Obama’s “proposed spending on human exploration in years 2011 through 2013 was several billion dollars less than what President Bush proposed last year,” Chang noted. Although the choice of Bolden was viewed as “a boost for manned spaceflight,” according a May article in the Los Angeles Times, he questioned its value during the presidential campaign and ordered a review of the Constellation program (NASA’s plan to replace the space shuttle with new Ares rockets and Orion crew capsules) shortly after taking office. The media has also questioned plans for manned spaceflight. Last week, in an article about he anniversary of the moon landing, The Economist asked whether or not it’s worth going back. “In truth, NASA has never really recovered its direction since the triumph of the Apollo project,” the magazine argued.
But it needs to, and good journalism can help. NASA is fertile ground for space reporters right now and, as fun as it is to remember the agency’s past, the story is all about its future.