NASA Goes Deep, op ed, NY Times
"After years of spending our nation's space budget building an orbiting space station of questionable utility, serviced by an operationally expensive space shuttle of unsafe design, NASA has set a new direction for the future of human spaceflight. Once again, we have our sights on the Moon ... and beyond. We are finally, bodily, going to make our way into space, this time to stay."
Editor's note: While I agree (strongly in most cases) with almost all of what Dr. Porco has written, I have to disagree with her gratuitous slap at human spaceflight. It simply serves no useful purpose to dump on one space project - in this case the International Space Station Program - as part of a justification for the value of another program (hers i.e. Cassini).
The political tables can every easily be turned as political winds shift. Look back at the original intent of the VSE: a focus on both human and robotic missions, of equal and synergistic value. Congress has spoken very clearly in this regard.
Space scientists such as Dr. Porco would be better served to extol the virtues of their projects based on the intrinsic merits thereof - not by saying, in effect, "my mission is better than your mission".
Dumping on human spaceflight will only serve to make potential supporters of robotic missions from within the human space flight community less inclined to stand at the side of the space science community ast they protest cuts in space science.
You may not see value in the ISS, Dr. Porco, but I certainly do - as do many others. For it is with the ISS that we will learn how to flight-certify humans so as to allow them to personally walk and gaze upon these marvelous worlds with their own eyes - worlds your robots first saw - with eyes crafted by humans.
United we stand, divided we fall.