Lovejoy asks: "I have done extensive reading since the Columbia tragedy about what's next for human space exploration. Most of the punditry agrees that extending the shuttle program for many more years is a bad idea. So what are the practical alternatives? I've seen ideas for new spacecraft, a carbon nanotube space elevator, among other things. What are the best ideas you've seen? Will the best idea win, or the one with the most pork barrel contracts? Does space travel/exploration have to be THIS expensive? What are the best short term/long term solutions?"
Since Congress has been steadily cutting back on support for NASA, Nick suggests this idea: "I'm sure there are many taxpayers out there like me that would love to see NASA's budget doubled. The problem is there isn't enough support to get congress to increase the budget by that amount, and I really don't want people to pay that don't care to. I propose an opt-in, one-time contribution box added to tax returns. I would require that my money be used only to advance the space program with either a shuttle replacement, an extra crew compartment for the space station, or a launch vehicle for a manned trip to Mars. Would you support a bill that would allow taxpayers to voluntarily contribute money to NASA? Are you ready to put your coin where your Dreams are?"