The successful launch and mission of space shuttle Discovery has proven two major facts in this country. First, it has shown critics and cynics alike that average citizens are very supportive of their American space program, and are willing to pay the cost to carry the freight.
Second, it has caused our local and national elected officials to grudgingly concede that the space program is no longer a "nonpolitical issue" as originally advised by their pollsters and political experts. One had only to see how many members of Congress were in attendance for the launch.
However, as pointed out in The Times ("Liftoff to Where," editorial, Sept. 30), one successful flight in the shuttle program does not correct a current space policy that was cast adrift in the stars during the 1970s when these facts are considered:
- For every American satellite now being launched in a foreign country, 5,000 jobs are being lost here in the United States.
- In 1969, we spent 4 cents out of every tax dollar on a space program that has returned to us an average of $7 in "down-to-earth" technological advances and benefits. Today, we currently spend a penny per tax dollar on our civilian space program.
- Some of the largest corporations in Japan and Europe are already designing permanent facilities to be built on the lunar surface.
- The Soviet Union has a permanently operational space station and two cosmonauts orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes. Right now. Ours won't be launched until sometime after 1995, if ever, despite the recently signed agreement between the U.S. and the Europeans.
One vote can make a difference. Yours. If you want America to lead the world into the 21st Century, ask your local candidate to state what he or she is going to do about our future in space. Then vote.
JAMES SPELLMAN, JR.
National Space Society