In my experience, it has been proven over the past few decades that the people of Congress have no real interest in actually advancing the technical progress of this nation when it comes to space exploration a development. They are more concerned with "traditional" political moves, rinse and repeat statements, and pandering to their political base in an effort to remain strong for the next election. So in short, it doesn't matter that the mid-term elections shuffled power in Congress...the same brain dead ideology still prevails.
As we all know, the impulse for starting the space program was fueled by nationalistic fervor, a passion to "beat the Russians" in whatever they did. If the Russians had instead decided to build a city in the Arctic, we would have done that instead of space exploration. In this respect, I thank Russia for choosing space as the battle ground. However, the time of space being a battle ground is over, and apparently so is the passion for space.
It seems the only reason for doing any large scale, large cost operation these days is for the purpose of chest thumping or conques...er...defense. I'll be interested to see the political stance when China announces its Moonshot and plans for Lunar base construction. Let's see how important it will be then, of course under the umbrella of national defense no doubt.
On that subject, as a former military veteran, I must ask: How much money do we need to keep the peace? As an associate of mine stated so correctly, "I believe the U.S. should have a "strong military". But how strong is "strong"? The present situation would only make sense if our goal were to "conquer the planet", not "keep peace.""
His statement comes from this article on World Military Spending, and the chart here shows the perverse distribution. Seriously, how many ways to kill a human being do we need to come up with? Last I checked, we already have the ability to send a missile hundreds of miles through the window or vent shaft of a building. Enough is enough. If that graph doesn't scream MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, then I don't know what does.
Yet people move about their daily lives, completely unaware or not caring about the money involved in this sector, all the while so many other social problems are literally destroying our civilization from the inside out. 1.5 trillion in military spending. 1.5 trillion! I can only imagine what NASA and the space industry as a whole would be able to accomplish with just 5% of that, 75 billion, which would be a 4 fold increase over what they get now.
Of course, the argument often then switches to, "Why NASA, when the money could be spent in other places?" Well, besides the jobs this would create throughout the space and tech sector, which would have a large overall positive impact, space exploration helps us develop technologies to live in harsh environments, and those technologies are then returned back to Earth and used in ways to help people live better lives.
Living in space requires...demands...long lasting, low energy demand but high output, closed loop sustainable and clean technologies, all of which are current needs if we expect to maintain a livable environment for ourselves. You can't really kill a planet, but you sure can screw up the ability for life to thrive on a planet, and we're doing a great job these days of ignoring the obvious toilet bowl swirl we've put ourselves in. The planet will exist for 4 billion or so years with or without us. I'd prefer with.
I have little faith in trumped up business people and lawyers (politicians) when it comes to advancing humanity into space, but hopefully people will become more knowledgeable with respect to what space exploration really means for us as a species, and even their daily lives. And with that progress, we can usher in a golden era for humanity, on Earth and among the stars.