Neil deGrasse Tyson on what’s next for the space program

Molly Wood Jul 11, 2011
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Neil deGrasse Tyson on what’s next for the space program

Molly Wood Jul 11, 2011
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Today we feature an interview with renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. He’s the host of the PBS program Nova scienceNOW, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, and a research associate in the department of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History.

He says we shouldn’t be lamenting the end of the space shuttle program, we should instead be lamenting the fact that there is nothing to replace it. I ask him what he would do if President Obama called him up and let him run NASA. “What I would require for NASA,” he says, “is that the budget doubles from four tenths of a percent of your tax dollar to 8/10s of a percent of your tax dollar. Space stations, the Hubble telescope, rovers, all of this comes under four tenths. The premise is we’re using it to save money to build the next space vehicle, but when that comes online, no one knows. It’s nebulous. I’d lament the gap. If there were enough money, you’d maintain the shuttle program while you bring on you next launch vehicle. No one lamented the end of the Gemini program because Apollo was ready to go.”

Tyson says there are many things left to explore. Asteroids, Mars, a return to the Moon where we’ve only ever landed on six points ever. He says we need to think in terms of versatility:

“Think about when you build a highway system. You don’t just build it from A to B. So that you can only go from A to B, You build it for wherever you might want to go later on. And then you choose to go there. You settle, you build, cities grow up. So you pick and choose your destinations, but you want to at least have the launch capability to leave Earth and then go wherever you choose.”

Also in this program, two long-running soap operas are going off the air but will get new life online.

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