Everyone’s favorite astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, has put forth a bold new vision for American space exploration. Delivering the opening address at this year’s National Space Symposium, Tyson said NASA’s budget should be doubled and refocused to emphasize “building a core fleet of launch vehicles that can be customized for a variety of missions and for a range of purposes.” Tyson recognized the idea is not new but that it needs greater attention. “One configuration will get you to the moon. Another will get you to a Lagrangian point. Another will get you to Mars,” he said.
What’s the Big Idea?
Tyson’s speech was meant to call attention to the importance of innovation, particularly given the country’s struggling economy. The international space industry accounts for $300 billion and while NASA’s piece of that pie is relatively small, it does more than its fair share of inspiring dreams. “Not only do you innovate, these innovations make headlines,” said Tyson. “Those headlines work their way down the educational pipeline. Everybody in school knows about it. You don’t have to set up a program to convince people that being an engineer is cool. They’ll know it just by the cultural presence of those activities. You do that, and it’ll jump-start our dreams.”