A sampling of recent editorials from Colorado newspapers:
The Denver Post, Aug. 12, on concentrating on space exploration:
When the Space Shuttle Atlantis was retired last year, we were among those who lamented what the moment said about the country's aspirations for space.
Two events in recent days have buoyed our belief that space exploration — with a significant boost from Colorado — should be a driving ideal for this nation.
The first was the energizing and amazing experience of watching the Curiosity rover land on Mars.
The other was the announcement that Sierra Nevada Systems Inc. was one of three companies splitting $1.1 billion in federal funding to develop next-generation vehicles to deliver and return astronauts from space.
The Louisville-based company's $212.5 million grant for its Dream Chaser spacecraft will benefit a company that already employs more than 800 people for 10 to 20 years, company head Mike Sirangelo told The Post.
It will have other local economic impacts as well, given that the Dream Chaser plans to use the Centennial-based United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rockets.
That's a localized reason to relish space exploration.
The successful landing on Mars of the 1-ton Curiosity rover is one that has seemingly refocused a nation's eyes on space.
True, we've landed rovers on Mars before. But never rovers of this size and with this precision.
And again, some of the credit goes to Colorado aerospace experts and engineers, as The Post's Kristen Leigh Painter detailed last week.
The correct trajectory was achieved using the ULA's Atlas 5 rocket. The "aeroshell" that allowed the craft to soar through the Martian atmosphere unscathed was built by Lockheed Martin in Jefferson County. The Southwest Research Institute's office in Boulder developed a radiation assessment detector that will analyze the planet's radioactive characteristics. And the first black-and-white images were courtesy of a camera designed by Boulder's Ball Aerospace & Technologies.
There are many other notable projects underway in the state, including Lockheed Martin's development of the Orion spacecraft — for deep-space travel — in Jefferson County and the MAVEN Mars mission spacecraft that is scheduled for launch next year.
Taken together, these stories serve as a reminder of John F. Kennedy's exhortation that space exploration should be attempted for the very reason that it is difficult, and a goal "that will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills."
Those words ring especially true in Colorado, which ranks in the top three states nationally as far as aerospace industry employment.
Space exploration lets us dream big and then forces us to figure out — as many Coloradans do every day — how to realize that dream.
Loveland Reporter-Herald, Aug. 10, on Mars rover Curiosity landing:
There is ample reason to feel distraught.
The economy is still struggling. The discourse in Washington grows increasingly nasty as the election nears. Wildfires have wreaked havoc on people's lives. Mass killings have tested the American spirit.
This country was in need of a moment to rejoice. The Summer Olympics in London have done that to an extent. But something bigger and grander was needed. An event that forced us to pause and remember how great the human race really is.
That moment came at about 11:30 p.m. Aug. 6 when NASA's Mars rover Curiosity landed unscathed on the Red Planet. Somehow, some way, it made it through the "Seven Minutes of Terror." All that had to go right for this to occur is difficult for the layman to grasp. Just one mistake and the mission fails.
Then you take into account the cost and you stop in your tracks.
NASA spent $2.5 billion for the rover and the mission. For those who think that is outlandish, compare that to the recent reports that have the cost of the 2012 presidential campaign at $5.8 billion to $8 billion. Or the London Olympics at a staggering $14.5 billion. It costs seven times more to put on the world's athletic competition than it does to try to discover if there is life outside of Earth.
To see those who played a role in this feat whooping and hollering was no doubt historic.
This is a feat that shows what we're capable of. Regardless of where one lives, celebrate. Above all else, feel a huge sense of pride.
The Pueblo Chieftain, Aug. 13, on Colorado Secretary of State getting registered voters' citizenship verified:
Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has been awaiting final permission from the Department of Homeland Security to check the citizenship of about 5,000 Colorado residents who are registered to vote but indicated on their driving records they are not U.S. citizens.
It's against the law for non-citizens to vote in this country. Mr. Gessler's motivation is not to seek prosecution at this point, merely to weed out non-citizens from the state's voter rolls.
Homeland Security originally balked at providing the information Mr. Gessler has been seeking, but it recanted after being threatened with a lawsuit by Colorado Attorney General John Suthers.
Mr. Gessler says that many on the list of 5,000 probably registered to vote without knowing they needed to be U.S. citizens. "Many of these cases are probably simple ignorance of the law because they identified themselves on their driving records as non-citizens. We also know about 2,000 did vote in recent elections."
To vote illegally this way bars people from ever becoming U.S. citizens, which is the goal of many who come to this country. So if they are registered but have not voted, it's in their interest to have their names purged.
Mr. Gessler said that, once the Homeland Security list is reviewed, "We'll send people a letter telling them what our search has determined and give them an opportunity to prove their citizenship if they are legal voters. They can also withdraw their names from voter registration."
He said that when North Carolina did that, about a third of the identified voters didn't respond to any request to clarify their status and their names were purged from the rolls.
The right to vote in this nation's elections has been paid for with blood. To have people not legally eligible to assume that right can negate votes of our citizens.
That should not be allowed.
The Coloradoan, Aug. 13 , on President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney's separate visits to Colorado:
President Barack Obama and the man who would take his job, Mitt Romney, have come to the Grand Valley and moved on down the campaign trail.
We're thrilled that each of them took the time to fly into Grand Junction, travel the streets of the town and speak in the Central and Grand Junction high school gymnasiums.
Their appearances gave western Colorado residents something that many in urban areas such as Denver take for granted: the full attention of the candidates for the highest office in the land.
That goes only so far, of course. Neither Obama nor Romney directly took on the issues that are important to this region, each offering instead their broadstroke take on national issues.
Of course, some local issues are national issues and that's as true here in the arid interface between the desert and the mountains as it is anywhere. Even more so, we might suggest.
Take, for instance, the inventive plea to the president to take note of the importance of the Colorado River to western Colorado and the rest of the region west of the Continental Divide. Admittedly a strong statement by either candidate runs the risk of alienating significant populations along the Front Range and in downstream cities in Arizona, California and Nevada.
Western Colorado, though, is in play, as the visits of the candidates demonstrate. Every vote each can garner here will matter in a battleground state in which nine electoral votes are up for grabs.
We have vague assurances from the candidates that they like domestic energy, but nothing that clears up doubts about how western Colorado energy sources might be tapped in a second Obama term or a first one for Romney. In the meantime, it's worth noting, exploration for natural gas is down sharply in Garfield County and the effects are being felt regionally.
We would like to hear more about nuclear energy, as well, to say nothing of taking full advantage of natural gas as a transportation fuel, from the candidates.
The threat inherent in the dead wood of the Colorado lodgepole forest and, increasingly, the spruce and fir of western Colorado, won't go away. It's more likely to demand presidential attention as the years go on.
And then there is the continuing issue of the fate of Colorado National Monument. The monument was established with presidential leadership and it's time after a century to bring the case of the monument to a close, with a new designation and name that tells the world clearly about the place.
The reality is that Obama and Romney are fixed on the next steps in their campaigns, but the issues we've mentioned aren't going away.
We, like the rest of the Western Slope, will be watching as the election season wears on for hints about the future of this region, in which the federal government plays a paramount economic, social and political role.