On Thursday, Republican Bill Posey (R-Florida) quoted Cosmos host Neil deGrasse Tyson while defending the 2015 budget of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
During the committee hearing, NASA administrator Charles Bolden, Jr. mounted a defense of his organization’s fiscal needs. “Deep space exploration is hard,” Bolden said. “And we cannot jump to Mars. We have to develop the technologies.”
“That’s why,” he continued, when a committee member asked about a Mars flyby, he said “a Mars flyby is great, but it doesn’t do anything for us in terms of deep space exploration. If the crew survives — and I have doubts about that,” he said, before changing tack.
“We never stayed on the surface of the Moon for more than days. If we’re going to go to the surface of the Moon, we better stay there for months, or two months, or we’re never going to learn anything about the impact of less-than-1-gravity on the brain.”
At which point, Rep. Posey interrupted him. “But do we agree unless at some point there is the ability to leave this Earth, the survival of our species is threatened?”
“I’m not a fatalist,” Bolden replied. “But I do believe we need to be a multi-planet species…because one of these days the Sun’s going to burn out,” he continued. “And it’d be nice to have become a multi-planet species by then, and we’re not just on Mars, by then, people will be living in other solar systems.”
Rep. Posey agreed, saying “I like Neil deGrasse Tyson when he says, ‘space is truly the only investment we make for future generations.'”
Posey represents, among other areas, Brevard County, home of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The region is also known as the Space Coast.
[“Air and Space Museum Apollo 40th Celebration” on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]