I love Mars rovers and cool space stations as much as any baby boomer, but the harsh reality is that America cannot afford a space program whose mission is to boost national prestige or serve as a white-collar jobs program. To justify its existence NASA must drive the private sector forward in space, not the other way round.
The SpaceX decision to build a launch facility near Brownsville will, eventually, be considered a historical moment that began the transformation of the Rio Grande Valley. However, SpaceX is only the most high-profile development in a series of investments being made in this 120-mile stretch of the Texas-Mexico border.
There is great irony to all the fuss during the past few months about the possibility that the Obama administration might block the continued sales of Russian RD-180 liquid-fuel engines to United Launch Alliance of Denver as a way of punishing Russia for its government's annexation of the Crimea and ongoing meddling in eastern Ukraine.
I was recently asked to recommend a space program for a "greatest achievement" award in the area of aeronautics or astronautics. How could you not go with Voyager? I mean, for the first time in the roughly 2 million-year-old human species, something we have conceived of and created has traveled beyond our solar system.