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There have been modern periods when our nation’s space exploration program fostered unapologetic pride in American exceptionalism. Phenomenal achievements of dreamers and pragmatists, conquest and innovation, human courage and commitment, triumphs over tragedies, and above all, spiritual inspiration to become ever better than we are — these seemed well worth the economic and human costs.

Is this still the case? Did all this heroic stuff become passé — an outmoded patriotism to be archived along with John Wayne movies? Can’t we just subordinate our space and technology development to collaborations where international bureaucracies and committees charter the future and determine our place in it? Or is it perhaps time to kick the space exploration can down the road and over the cliff?  If so, should we let NASA continue to focus more and more of its resources upon trying to protect the planet from natural climate change?

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Category: Science