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American Space Policy

Two Presidents, Ronald Reagan and George Bush, controlled American space policy in the 1980s. In 1982, President Reagan announced that there would be a new reinvigoration of the American space program. However, it would not be until 1984 that he would announce during the State of the Union Address that he supported the building of a new space station. He hoped that it would be finished by 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbus coming to America. But the funding problems that continually plagued the Space Shuttle also followed the space station. NASA was prepared for this having learned from its STS lessons. The space station could not constitute a large percentage of its budget since the White House would not support that. Because of the lukewarm support from Congress and supposed indifference by the White House, the space station would not take root and begin its assembly process until 1998 under a Democratic President, Bill Clinton. President George Bush made an attempt to jump-start a manned mission to Mars. One can see the various stepping stones to the universe (reusable shuttle, space station, manned Mars missions) starting with Hermann Oberth’s vision of the 1920s, and von Braun’s articles in the 1950s, and NASA big push under President Nixon. But it would take time to convince a President and the Congress. In the case of President Bush’s recommendations for Mars, they fell on deaf in the Congress. There just was not any political support for it at the time.

 

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Nicholas M. Short, Sr. email: nmshort@ptd.net
Jim Rosalanka (jrosolanka@worldnet.att.net)