Huzzah! Once again, 45 does something majorly right!
This is a great idea for three reasons. First, private enterprise is the future of space exploration, and as far as I know we will be the first spacefaring nation to put most of its eggs in that basket. Second, it's nice to have eggs! Since the Obama administration canceled the Constellation program to develop the Ares booster and the Orion crew vehicle (though it subsequently reinstated the Orion part of the program), the United States has been twiddling its thumbs while China has taken great leaps toward the moon and other countries- including Russia, India, and Japan- have to various degrees intensified their own space programs. It would be both tragic and foolhardy for the nation which first landed on the moon to fall behind the other developed nations in an area which will represent a significant element in humanity's scientific and economic future.
Finally- and in some ways, most importantly- there's the economic impact of a renewed manned effort in space. It's not just that it would be better to have the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft ferrying American astronauts to the International Space Station than continuing to have them hitch a ride with the Russians. It seems incredible that nobody has noticed the incredible impact the Mercury, Gemini. and Apollo programs had on the American economy. Despite Luddite arguments about the need to be spending our tax revenues on more pressing needs existing on Earth, every dollar spent on the manned space program returned exponentially more revenue not only to the American economy but to the American government! It would be interesting for the bean counters to sit down and figure out exactly how much of how many Great Society programs were bankrolled by the manned space program and the tax revenues it generated from the whole industries it called into being!
And entire industries did spring into existence because of John Kennedy's decision to go to the moon. They sprang into being not in response to Kennedy's command, but rather at the call of the greatest economic stimulus of all- actual demand- to fill actual and objective needs which otherwise would not have existed, These, in turn, created needs which caused still other industries to come into being to fill them, employing huge numbers of people and pumping life especially into the economies of several Western states- economies and industries which have dried up like unwatered houseplants since the manned space program was curtailed and then abandoned. I cannot understand how any administration seriously committed to getting our chronically sluggish economy growing again and putting large numbers of American workers back can fail to see that a return to the moon and thereafter a decision to go to Mars would be the best decisions the government could make. If there are needs at home (or, for that matter, a deficit to reduce), wouldn't it be a good idea to multiply the available amount of money for addressing them by utilizing a tried-and-true strategy for putting the economy on steroids?
And best of all, it will be private industry (doubtless with government investment and even subsidies, but private industry nonetheless) that will bear the primary cost. The impact that will have on the space program can be seen in the image at the upper left of this post. For most of the space age, every mission has made use of a new, disposable booster that fell useless into the sea once its function was served. A large step toward dealing with the waste this entailed was taken when the space shuttle program made the fuel tank and main booster section reusable, although disposable auxiliary engines on each side of the tank were still employed. The SpaceX Falcon 9, pictured above, will be the world's first entirely reusable booster. The constraints posed by the profit motive are apt to make an already profitable venture run by the government into a far more profitable venture run by people actually trying to make a profit!
Whole industries stand to be revived, the economy rejuvenated, and the government enriched by the increased tax revenue this decision will make possible while private industry bears the brunt of the cost. And the United States will take its head out of the sand and once again focus, along with the other great nations of the Earth, on its destiny among the stars. As critical as I am of 45, he has once again done exactly the right thing in an area which will profoundly affect America's future for the better.
Please, Mr. President. Keep surprising me!