Nasa’s space missions have a record of triumph against the odds. They have challenged science, technology and the potential of human endeavour. However, Nasa’s biggest challenge yet comes in the form of the US deficit. On 13 February, President Obama submits his 2013 federal budget to Congress and Nasa’s planetary science budget is set to be a casualty, probably marking Nasa’s terminal decline.
Nasa was once America’s proudest achievement and the language they used to describe their dauntless programs reflected their courage. Mercury, Apollo, Space Shuttle, the International Space Station (ISS). These Herculean projects required names that described in a phrase the enormity of their objectives. When attempting to land humans on the moon for the first time Nasa officials opted for Apollo, which took the name of the Greek and Roman god who stood for light and truth. Mercury, the god of speed but also of trade and pursuit, perfectly captured the achievement and the possible technological and commercial consequences of man circling the entire globe in a matter of minutes.