Mike Griffin, the NASA administrator, pointed out the following in an editorial response published in USA Today:
America is a frontier nation. Two hundred years ago, the frontier was whatever Lewis & Clark would see the next day. One hundred years ago, it was in Alaska, labeled as “Seward’s Folly” when it was purchased in 1867. Today, the human frontier is space, with the Apollo missions to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s, the development of the International Space Station today, or future missions to build an outpost on the moon.
Our great-great-grandparents accepted the challenge of their frontier. Will today’s generation do less? And if so, why? To save 15 cents per day? To save six-tenths of 1% of the federal budget? Because that is the cost to the average citizen of our nation’s space program. Whether we wish to explore space or not, to say that we cannot afford space exploration is ridiculous.