#SpacePOTUS: We Choose to Go to Mars
Guest blog by Alexandra Abrams
Published October 8th 2016

“We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people.”

- U.S. President John F. Kennedy

On September 12, 1962 - 54 years ago - U.S. President John F. Kennedy gave the "We choose to go to the moon" speech in front of a large crowd at Rice Stadium in Houston, inspiring the American people to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth.

 

JFK was the O.G. (original gangster) #SpacePOTUS, and in just a few short weeks, the country that has the word “frontiering” imprinted on its DNA, will elect a new President of the United States

- my generation’s #SpacePOTUS.

 

Millennials and Gen Z - the new Space Generations - haven’t had a leader who has captured their attention - their spirit - around the mission of exploration that shatters racial, socio-economic and national barriers.

 

While many have and can say Obama is an inspiring president, he has never been a #SpacePOTUS because he happened to be president during the space program’s interim period. The Space Shuttle’s last flight launched just two years after he took office and ever since then, America hasn’t been able to send astronauts to space. He will leave office before the U.S. reclaims its place in the race, now not just as a government endeavor, but as a competitive, entrepreneurial market force.


Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be President when the first flights of NASA’s Commercial Crew program are launched, and if they are a two-term president, they could be the leader under which we take our first trip to Mars, signaling a new era in the country’s spaceflight history.

 

This applies to both candidates equally because space exploration has been and should remain a bipartisan undertaking, as nothing unites us with our fellow human than the realization we are but a few specks of stardust in a vast, inky expanse, rich with opportunity.

Call to Action: The Inaugural Address

No matter the outcome, come January, someone will stand in front of the Capitol Building and address a sharply divided nation. The incoming President must seize this rare opportunity to tell America “Why we choose to go to Mars.” And why should we? That’s easy - to develop technologies that will heal our planet and solve global humanitarian crises, inspire a new generation of dreamers and doers through STEAM education and employment opportunities, and ultimately unite the world under the banner of knowledge, curiosity and socio-economic advancement associated with expanding humanity’s horizons. January’s inaugural address must inspire the Space Generations to be the ones to pass on a healthier, cleaner and more sustainable Earth to our
children and grandchildren.

When Clinton and Trump go home after exhausting days of rallies and grueling travel schedules, do they realize that they could very likely become “the JFK” of my generation? Will I get to hear a “We choose to go to Mars” speech that excites and unites us?

 

It’s certainly something I, and many others, dream about. Here is what some Gen Z kids want the next president to consider- their #SpacePOTUS.


Yes, Exploring & Investing in Space, Sustains Earth

The 2016 candidates often talk about global problems that have global implications, but they do not address space travel and exploration directly, and the two are inextricably linked. If, for example, we threw our considerable might behind establishing a human settlement on Mars, many years before a mission actually launched we could solve hunger problems here on Earth in regions with inhospitable climates, develop more effective ways to treat disease, solve water shortages – like the drought in California – and create clean, alternative energy sources (just to name a few.) The challenges we face in sustaining human life on Mars, and getting there in the first place, are directly applicable to the challenges we face on Earth. In the end, it comes down to challenging ourselves, and by challenging ourselves with exploration and survival in space, we will learn how to better sustain the Earth and ourselves.

#SpacePOTUS #SpaceGen #Election2016

 

Ally Abrams is the Communications Director for commercial space advocacy nonprofit,

the Space Frontier Foundation. The thoughts and views expressed here are her own.

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