What an honor! The question, as I have discussed time and again, is a very timely and valid question, especially in the face of Obama threatening to cancel Human Space Flight in the US and redirect the money to a socialized education plan.
To be perfectly honest with you, I did not even hear Huckabee's response because my phone went crazy as I started getting calls left and right... But I did catch Tancredo angrily nailing me to the wall... I will have to sit down with him and talk space...He is, afterall, my congressman... and I have met him a few times (we run in the same crowds)...
Here is the video:
I know that some folks that I have discussed this issue with have stated that Space Exploration is bottom of their Totem... but Space Exploration demands innovation, technological advancements, and the inspiration to dream bigger than what we already have. Human exploration of Mars may even answer the questions of "are we unique" and "can we survive without the protection of earth".
The transcript is as follows:
Steve Nielson: My name is Steve Nielson. And this question comes to you from Denver, Colorado.
JFK's vision put a man on the moon from a nonexistent space program in about seven years. The new vision for space exploration has provided about 15 years for that same feat.
Meanwhile, Congress is pulling funding for human-to-Mars research altogether.
Is there a candidate amongst you willing to take a pledge on behalf of the Mars Society of sending an American to the surface of Mars by 2020? If not, what is your vision for human space exploration?
Cooper: Governor Huckabee?
NASA pumps some -- let's see, how many -- $5 billion into Florida's economy.
Huckabee: Whether we ought to go to Mars is not a decision that I would want to make, but I would certainly want to make sure that we expand the space program, because every one of us who are sitting here tonight have our lives dramatically improved because there was a space program -- whether it's these screens that we see or the incredible electronics that we use, including the GPS systems that got many of you to this arena tonight.
Some of you were late because you didn't have one, by the way. Or whether it's the medical technologies that saved many of our lives or the lives or our families, it's the direct result of the space program, and we need to put more money into science and technology and exploration.
Now, whether we need to send somebody to Mars, I don't know. But I'll tell you what: If we do, I've got a few suggestions, and maybe Hillary could be on the first rocket to Mars.
Cooper: Congressman Tancredo, 30 seconds, please.
Tancredo: The question is a serious one and it deserves a serious answer, and that is this: Look, we've been -- how many times up here, how many questions have dealt with the issue of deficit spending, the debt out of control? And yet, we have somebody saying, "But would you spend more money on going to Mars?"
And the suggestion that we need to spend more money on space exploration. This is it, folks. That's why we have such incredible problems with our debt, because everybody's trying to be everything to all people.
We can't afford some things, and by the way, going to Mars is one of them.
And my response to the candidates who answered my question last night...
Tancredo showed his inability to see past immigration, and his general anger towards NASA. What he fails to see is that NASA, regardless of being a government department, has had the most profoundly positive impact to our way of life. And the idea that removal of the space program to cut government budget would be effectiv is ludacris! NASA's budget is 0.6% of the total national budget. In fact, the ENTIRE funding of NASA since it's inception in 1958 (adjusted for current dollar value) has been $618.4 Billion...
That is right... Nearly the same amount of money that we have spent in 4 years on the Iraq war (currently at $450 Billion).
So Tancredo, who wants to continue a combat presence indefinately says that we cannot afford to spend pennies over the course of many years to inspire, innovate, and explore? But we surely have the money to wage war, which gobbles up HUGE amounts of money in a very short time period!
I think we, as intelligent beings, need to get our priorities straight! And I think Tom Tancredo needs to start thinking about more than just the border!
My Video Response to CNN/YouTube: