Dean Rohrer

Can NASA Stop Global Warming?

Since the lunar landings of the 1960's and 1970's, NASA has lacked an overarching goal to guide its activities. Now, the Obama administration should define NASA's next mission: development of technologies that can avert global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the earth's atmosphere and oceans.

LOS ANGELES – In 1961, President John F. Kennedy asserted that the United States “should commit itself to achieving the goal…of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth,” by the end of the decade. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration accepted the challenge. From 1969 to 1972, NASA’s Apollo program achieved six manned landings on the moon – missions that expanded human knowledge, stimulated economic growth, bolstered America’s geopolitical standing at a critical time, and inspired people worldwide.

Since then, NASA has repeatedly overcome adversity in pursuit of important breakthroughs and achievements, including exploring the solar system with robotic spacecraft, peering deep into the universe with space telescopes, and building the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. These successes far outweigh NASA’s few failures.

But, since the Apollo program, NASA has lacked a clear, overarching goal to guide its activities. To drive progress in crucial areas, the agency needs a compelling vision that is consequential and relevant to current needs – and it is up to US President Barack Obama to define it.

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