As the Democratic Party continues to craft its platform, NASA Watch’s Keith Cowing noticed a conspicuous omission. Apparently, no mention exists about NASA or civilian Space policy. Cowing puts this down to the idea that space is a “niche issue.” On the other hand, sections exist supporting statehood for Washington D.C. and closing Guantanamo, two matters that have not been in the news as of late.

NASA has a budget that exceeds $19 billion a year and continues to do remarkable things, such as the recent Juno probe arriving at Jupiter, last year’s New Horizon flyby of Pluto, and the continuing trek of Mars Curiosity across the Red Planet.

The Space Agency’s Journey to Mars is an ambitious undertaking that dwarfs the Apollo program to land a man on the moon in its scope and ambition.

Hillary Clinton, the presumed nominee, has had nothing to say about space policy except for general “mom and apple pie” praise for what NASA does. She has not opened her mind about a number of vexing questions surrounding space policy. Should NASA continue the Journey to Mars or should it refocus its attention back toward the moon before going to Mars?

What role should the commercial space sector play in future space agency endeavors? How much should the government encourage commercial space enterprises, such as lunar and asteroid mining? These and other questions need answering before the election.

Of course, what a party or a candidate says before an election often has little bearing on what actually happens once the election is over. In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama had contradictory positions on space policy.

At one point he proposed delaying the Constellation return to the moon program to pay for an education initiative. He then told a crowd in Florida that he supported the program. However, just over a year after being sworn into office, President Obama canceled the Constellation program, abruptly and without warning, throwing NASA into chaos. A few months later he announced what became the Journey to Mars, bypassing the moon.

Of course, to be fair, the Republicans have yet to open their minds about space policy in its platform. On the other hand, if Donald Trump chooses Newt Gingrich to be his running mate, we might hear a great deal about the subject. Gingrich famously advocated a commercial moon base in 2012, something he received ridicule for. Ironically, the idea has regained a certain degree of respect, with a number of studies advocating for the notion and calls for a back to the moon program rising in Congress and the scientific community.

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