Editor’s Note: According to NASA budget documentation for fiscal 2007 “The Terrestrial Planet Finding (TPF) project has been postponed indefinitely.” In other words, he’s dead. NASA is just afraid to say it.
In a document entitled “A renewed spirit of discovery“released the same day that President Bush announced his vision for space exploration in January 2004, the White House asked NASA, as part of the new” Vision for Space Exploration ” “Perform advanced telescope searches for Earth-like planets and habitable environments around other stars”.
In a statement released today, the Planetary Society expressed serious concerns about the cancellation of this and other space science missions. The President of the Planetary Society, Wesley T. Huntress, Jr., observed that this action amounts to “Essentially transferring funds from a popular and highly productive program into one [Space Shuttle] whose termination is scheduled. “
According to to President Bush, as he unveiled his vision for space exploration: “We don’t know where this journey will end, but we do: Human beings are heading into the cosmos.”
If there was one singular mission that embodied humanity projecting its collective “vision” outward “into the cosmos” in order to seek places to “move” to, it was the Terrestrial Planet Finder.
It’s a bad decision. A very bad one. In doing so, one has to wonder if this White House really meant what it said 2 years ago when it raised everyone’s expectations, thus invoking an expansion “in the cosmos”.
With each passing year, this “vision” becomes more and more myopic.