Thomas Friedman had actually talked about a new Sputnik moment here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/opinion/27friedman.html
And, Obama, in the SOTU address, mentioned America's new Sputnik moment.
And yet, I already hear of China's move to develop thorium-based nuclear energy: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/02/china-thorium-power/
If this is Sputnik, no, not really: it would be as if the Russians were already going to the moon.
Will be one heck of a race to watch: if the US can scramble in the next few years.
From Sputnik (1957), to Apollo 11 (1969), took about 12 years. 12 years ~ 3 election cycles. Will Obama continue have the political resilience to pull this off? Will the next administration be willing to continue this?