Science Debate 2008 – my Question #6: Space

To keep the conversation about the Science Debate 2008 going, I decided to post, one per day, my ideas for potential questions to be asked at such a debate. The questions are far too long, though, consisting more of my musings than real questions that can be asked on TV (or radio or online, wherever this may end up happening). I want you to:
– correct my factual errors
– call me on my BS
– tell me why the particular question is counterproductive or just a bad idea to ask
– if you think the question is good, help me reduce the question from ~500 to ~20 words or so.
Here is the sixth one, so comment away!

It appears that each President, soon after assuming office, radically changes the direction of our Space Program. Ongoing long-term projects get shelved in favor of starting new long-term projects that sound more spectacular than those of his predecessor. Often the politically spectacular projects involving manned spaceflight are of dubious scientific value compared to other NASA projects they displace. Under the current Administration, all of the basic science at NASA, as well as the well-established system for prioritizing missions, have been trashed in the name of the Moon/Mars program.
Recently, a number of private companies have started investing into manned spaceflight, potentially giving NASA even more room to experiment with numerous cheaper, safer and more science-valuable projects the like of Mars Rovers, the Hubble telescope, etc. If elected President, how would you balance the scientific research at NASA with the manned spaceflight program? How would you ensure that long-term projects do not have to fear the sudden changes in priorities by whoever is your successor in the White House, i.e., ensuring long-term stability of funding and relative independence of the NASA scientific programs from the vagaries of electoral cycles?
Science Debate 2008 – my Question #1: Scientific Advice to the President
Science Debate 2008 – my Question #2: Science Funding
Science Debate 2008 – my Question #3: Global Warming
Science Debate 2008 – my Question #4: Who has Scientific Authority?
Science Debate 2008 – my Question #5: Food

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