U.S. Must Explore Space To Retain Its First Rank Among Nations: Griffin
The United States will retain its foremost position among nations only if it meets squarely the difficult, dangerous and expensive challenge of exploring space, Michael Griffin, the NASA administrator, asserted.
Without question, space shall be explored by citizens of Earth, Griffin argued. The only question will be whether the United States leads such explorations and expeditions, or whether other nations shall seize the lead, with American stature fading.
He made his case for space exploration as NASA is moving to obtain a crew vehicle and a lifter to take astronauts from Earth to other realms beyond the International Space Station, including formation of an encampment on the moon, and journeys to Mars and beyond.
Make no mistake, Griffin warned, the United States cannot sit back and do nothing, and assume that space won’t be explored. If U.S. will is found wanting, then other nations will step into the breach, and step onto other heavenly bodies, he predicted.
It has long been thus with voyages into the unknown, Griffin observed.
“Britain became great in the 17th century through its exploration and mastery of the seas,” he recalled. “America’s greatness in the 20th century stemmed largely from its mastery of the air.” Now another great unknown beckons, awaiting exploration.
“For the next generations, the frontier will be space,” he stated. And it is clear that “other countries will explore the cosmos, whether the United States does or not.”
Whichever nations dare to risk lives and fortunes in journeying outward through the solar system, “those will be Earth’s great nations in the years and centuries to come,” he asserted.
While some ask whether the United States, the richest nation on Earth, can afford to explore space, Griffin said the question properly should be whether America can afford to lose its nerve and will here.
“I believe America should look to its future — and consider what that future will look like if we choose not to be a spacefaring nation,” Griffin concluded.