President Obama's cancelling of the Moon mission is meant to save money - but at what cost to the human spirit?
NASA's new budget means that the International Space Station (ISS) will continue to fly until 2020. But it's unlikely to get funding beyond that. Maybe we can do some good science up there in the next decade. But it's not long, is it? And when the money runs out, NASA will send the ISS screaming in flames into the ocean, at the cost of about $2 billion - that's just to shut the damn thing down.
Long before then, the Shuttle will have stopped flying. If the Ares I isn't finished soon, US astronauts will be hitching rides on Russian rockets to get to the ISS.
What the hell has happened to our sense of adventure and our longing to explore?
The Moon landings happened before I was born. There wasn't a single year of my life when there wasn't a space mission in progress. For me, space exploration means people flying on rockets, putting their lives on the line to expand mankind's horizons.
Space exploration will continue, of course - with unmanned probes and robots. And they're great. But there's something even greater about a human going physically into that realm.
And yeah, I got a buzz when George W Bush talked about going to Mars. For about five minutes. Then I realised he was bullshitting (I know, big surprise). He was just trying to lay claim to Mars with a tenth-rate copy of John F Kennedy's speech about going to the Moon. Kennedy helped that happen. Bush was just trying to carve some piece of posterity for himself, something good that people could remember about him - as if we'd forget all the shit he did.
But anyway ... it's all been downhill from there. The bankers stole all our money and one of the consequences is that we can no longer afford to enlarge the boundaries of our knowledge. The cancellation of the Moon mission is just a way of coming to terms with financial reality. But somehow it makes us less human.