It is typical for U.S. presidents to call for more ambitious policies and goals in their waning months in the White House. With less than four weeks until Election Day, Obama has been making strides in revolutionary climate change legislation, unprecedented foreign policy discussions with countries like Cuba, and now he has made perhaps his most ambitious proposal yet: a venture for Mars.
In an op-ed published on CNN this week, President Obama praised American ingenuity and innovation, attributing the nation’s greatness to leaps and bounds made in extraterrestrial research and exploration. “It represents an essential part of our character -- curiosity and exploration, innovation and ingenuity, pushing the boundaries of what's possible and doing it before anybody else. The space race we won not only contributed immeasurably important technological and medical advances, but it also inspired a new generation of scientists and engineers with the right stuff to keep America on the cutting edge.”
The president wrote about the evolution of the nation’s space exploration programs under his administration. He offered accolades for the private sector’s ability to spur innovation in space travel and discovery and addressed some of the country’s most recent successes in the area. “Last year alone, NASA discovered flowing water on Mars and evidence of ice on one of Jupiter's moons, and we mapped Pluto -- more than 3 billion miles away -- in high-resolution. Our space telescopes revealed additional Earth-like planets orbiting distant stars, and we're pursuing new missions to interact with asteroids, which will help us learn how to protect the Earth from the threat of colliding with one while also teaching us about the origins of life on Earth. We've flown by every planet in the solar system -- something no other nation can say. And we continue to drive down the cost of space exploration for taxpayers.”
He furthered with his plans for the future of the nation’s space program: Mars. “We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America's story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time.”
Ambitious is most certainly an understatement. Pundits are already condemning the president for his starry-eyed vision and lack of focus on more pressing issues on Earth, such as the humanitarian crisis in Syria and America’s racial disparities. However, we could have expected this. With an election season that seems to be bringing back many of the sentiments and issues America faced in the 60’s, one cannot help but appreciate the president’s forward-thinking approach. We have Trump appealing to the same feelings that created the racial tension that still persists across the country and Hillary engaging in corruption to the same extent that cost Nixon his position. Obama’s calls for Mars exploration are a refreshing blast of futurism and American optimism in an election drowned in negativity.
What do you think about Obama’s latest proposal?