We need to give NASA back its old swagger

The discovery of water on Mars has rekindled interest in the planet.
The discovery of water on Mars has rekindled interest in the planet. AFP/Getty Images

WOW! I am feeling a Buck Rogers moment coming on.

Yeah, I know. Nobody really knows what that means any more. Actually, I never saw a Buck Rogers movie, either. But it’s, like, uh, you know, a shared generic sci fi experience.

OK. Here’s the thing. There is non-frozen water on Mars! People! This is, like, you know, humongous!

And do you hear about this on the campaign trail? No! Did the president of the United States make a prime time TV speech? No! Did Pope Francis praise the heavens from a whole different perspective? Duh. Do these people not watch trailers for “The Martian”? What happened to all the hoopla for “Interstellar”? Doesn’t anybody remember Sandra Bullock in “Gravity”?

I mean, really, didn’t they see Bill Nye the Science Guy actually twitch (a little) in excitement?

It’s been such a tedious year, what with all the bad economic news and political ho-hum, that you’d think the possibility that an environment on Mars that could make life possible is tremendous. There’s already speculation that if there’s water on Mars, rocket fuel could be manufactured there!

I want NASA back.

I know Mark and Scott Kelly, the astronaut twins, are doing their best. But, frankly, NASA is a shell, so to speak, of its former self.

Folks, we have to get serious about space again. We need the injection of self-confidence, the boost to morale, the thrill of innovation that we got from going to the Moon.

Americans are desperate for a sign that we are still The Nation to Be Dealt With. President Obama announced early on in his presidency that NASA was re-emergent. He promised a crewed mission to Mars by the mid 2030s.

That is still the official NASA mission. The Nation’s Journey to Mars continues. But funding is lagging. We’re talking $18 billion a year (less than the agency received in 2010) and no signs of a big increase.

Let’s face it. We’re dealing with a Republican Congress that doesn’t even accept the scientific fact of man-made climate change. Mars is hardly on the horizon.

Many of us remember the day we landed on the Moon. Yes, we’ve sort of lost our national taste for Tang, but that was a GREAT DAY!

Why can’t we do something really cool like that again?