Last week China launched a lunar mission, a precursor to its plans to put a man on the moon. India, Japan and Russia are also considering similar missions.
NASA? Not so much, to the chagrin of a 6 year old boy who's trying to do something about it:
Every young boy and girl in the world dreams of being someone great someday. However, with reports of NASA funding cuts in the news, 6-year-old Connor Johnston decided to do something about it. Connor decided to take matters into his own little hands and start a petition to see if he could save NASA’s budget.
Connor learned of the budget cuts to NASA and the space program over the Thanksgiving weekend. When the 6-year-old heard that congress planned on making the cuts he was really disappointed. He was just disappointed enough to do something about it. At first, Connor thought about donating the $10.41 he’d managed to save from his allowance. Then he decided to donate his entire piggy bank. However, after consulting with his family Connor decided to start a petition.
Connor wants to be an astronaut someday, so he could discover new worlds and asteroids. Maybe he’d even get to build stuff out of asteroids. This is not a new dream that Connor has, because he’s had this dream exactly half of his life. According to the 6-year-old, NASA happens to be the only space agency he’s known for a long time.
Connor’s petition started out pretty slow as signatures were solicited from family and friends through email and Facebook. However, as soon as the media got word that a 6-year-old boy was trying to save NASA, the media did what they could to spread the word, so Connor could be an astronaut someday.
Even though the petition’s momentum started to pick up, he’s still a long way from saving NASA. As Connor needs to have at least a 100,000 signatures on the petition before he can make a difference.
Congress announced the “restructuring” of NASA and the planetary scientists have been nervous since. NASA funds over 90 percent of planetary sciences in the United States, which includes scientists that apply for research grants and NASA employees themselves. Grant program funding is currently divided among dozens of groups, which will see a consolidation if Connor is not successful with his petition.
I find this sad.
Though I'm sure it's all more nuanced than this, it's telling that we are seemingly depending on a 6 year old to save NASA while other countries are forging ahead with space exploration.