I'll be brief. President Obama invoked "Sputnik" as a rallying cry to come together as a nation. On February,24 2011, the Space Shuttle Discovery will make its final voyage before being retired. Isn't it ironic for a President to invoke Sputnik given that we will no longer be able to independently put a man into orbit?
The history of the Space Race wasn't just about beating the Russians. Many opposed NASA because they thought the money should be spent on domestic social policies. The critics (Walter Mondale) clearly believed it had no value.
Tonight, President Obama channeled Walter Mondale. He insisted on more big government domestic spending as he's slamming the door to space. He wants to rebuild infrastructure and cited Eisenhower's Interstate Highway funding. Fine, but Eisenhower was President during Sputnik and highway construction. He did both. The results were a country wide open to every American and the first steps into the "New Frontier". Obama wants to restore one and has abandoned the other. Sputnik motivated Eisenhower, fostering innovation on Earth and beyond. Wouldn't it be nice to live in a country where we can spacewalk and chew gum at the same time?