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There is a sense of gloom, even despair, in the space community about the future. Many hopes have been dashed as a result of the muddle Congress created when considering the fiscal year 2011 budget. Human space exploration now lacks goals and is focused on debates of what to build, without consideration of what to build it for. Robotic space exploration is marked by cutbacks in expectations as well as plans as we dry-dock our hoped-for flagships.

This takes place in a larger context of global economic and financial woes, the several wars in which we are now engaged, and increasing energy prices. The larger context means that we cannot credibly or usefully advocate bigger budgets for better and increased space programs. We have to argue for smarter budgets. Since biblical times this has meant not trying to simply harvest more, but to spend some small fraction of resources planting seed corn.

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Category: Science