The Latest Conservative Misfire On Space Policy

 

space2Some time this month — perhaps this Friday — an American space company will attempt to land part of a launch system on an autonomous drone ship in the Atlantic, the first time any system has landed on a hard surface since the final Space Shuttle flight. Its goal is to dramatically reduce the cost of launch by reusing the stage. Later this summer, that same company plans to test a new launcher that will deliver over 100,000 pounds of payload to orbit, the largest rocket since the Saturn V that took astronauts to the moon. About the same time, a NASA probe will fly past Pluto a mere 6,200 miles from the surface, giving humanity its first close look at our distant neighbor. At least two — perhaps three — new commercial capsules are in development to take NASA astronauts and private citizens into space, ending our dependence on the Russians to get to our space station. In Mojave, California, a small rocket plane is in the last stages of construction before taking passengers into space for less than $100,000. The billionaire founder of Amazon.com has his own rocket company developing new engines and new vehicles, with the goal of putting millions of people into space.

But despite all this, some ostensible conservatives continue to act as if America’s space activities are in eclipse. When you bring up the topic of space policy with them, the only thing they seem to know about it is the (completely false) notion that NASA’s primary mission is “Muslim outreach.” As the latest example, I was recently compelled to dismantle a foolish and ignorant piece at The American Spectator. As I conclude over at PJMedia:

In the Bush administration, many of us used to mock the left in their BDS — Bush Derangement Syndrome — in which all ills of the world could be laid at the feet of the president. At least when it comes to space policy, too many conservatives suffer from ODS, which is too bad, because there are serious problems with our space policy. But they have nothing to do with who is president, and everything to do with anachronistic and, frankly, unconservative views of what we should be doing in space, based on Cold War events of half a century ago. Willingly publishing the kind of ignorance above once again demonstrates the unseriousness of many conservatives about what should be a serious topic, and just makes it that much harder to have an intelligent discussion. And reading such a terrible piece makes me question everything else that The American Spectator publishes. Its editors should be ashamed.

As I’ve often noted, space is actually one of the few things that Obama hasn’t screwed up, probably because he doesn’t care about it. Let’s hope he doesn’t develop an interest in it.

[Wednesday-morning update]

The American Spectator has published a response from tech journalist Doug Mohney. Colebatch remains clueless.

Image Credit: NASA, via Wikicommons.

There are 32 comments.

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  1. MarciN Member

    Rand Simberg: As I’ve often noted, space is one of the few things that Obama hasn’t screwed up, because he doesn’t care about it. Let’s hope he doesn’t develop an interest in it.

    I’m sure there are other areas too.

    That said, the problem is the juggernaut bureaucracy that can’t get out of its own way.

    No involvement, no management, is almost as bad as too much.

    This problem is everywhere one looks in government these days–immigration, land management, even the national park system.

    The government is doing more than it should be, and it needs to be downsized a lot.

    I would agree that Obama is not guiltier of this neglect than anyone else. There are 550 members of Congress, each one with 60 staff members, give or take a few, who are also responsible for the management of the federal government’s activities.

    • #1
    • January 5, 2015, at 8:58 AM PDT
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  2. Rand Simberg Inactive
    Rand Simberg Post author

    The problem with space policy is that Congress (on a bipartisan basis) sees it as a pork program, and it’s not really important whether we accomplish anything with it.

    • #2
    • January 5, 2015, at 9:15 AM PDT
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  3. MarciN Member

    Rand Simberg:The problem with space policy is that Congress (on a bipartisan basis) sees it as a pork program, and it’s not really important whether we accomplish anything with it.

    Agreed.

    The same is true of so many worthy government projects.

    NOAH was at one time trying to map the ocean floor. Clinton cut its funding by half. The project stopped. Years later when the tsunami hit Japan, the guys at Woods Hole commented that if their project had seen fruition, the warning system would have been in place.

    That’s the job of management. Setting priorities and advocating for the mission. I blame the executives at Woods Hole. They should have asserted the benefits to be had from making their good program work. Instead, they acted passive-aggressively when Clinton made those cuts. I would have been out there squawking to everyone about my program. The support and money aren’t going to just walk through the door any more easily in government than in the private sector. It’s a fact of life.

    We need good executives.

    If you’re going to do something, do it right or don’t do it at all. Old Yankee wisdom.

    • #3
    • January 5, 2015, at 9:23 AM PDT
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  4. Seawriter Member

    Rand Simberg:The problem with space policy is that Congress (on a bipartisan basis) sees it as a pork program, and it’s not really important whether we accomplish anything with it.

    Spent nearly 30 years supporting the Shuttle Program. I am now working in big oil. One of the main reasons why was the feeling accomplishments – real accomplishments, not the gussied up stuff NASA sold as accomplishments – really were not important. Or rather, really unimportant.

    Decided I’d rather do something useful with the rest of my work life, not just collect a paycheck.

    Seawriter

    • #4
    • January 5, 2015, at 9:49 AM PDT
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  5. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    MarciN: … Years later when the tsunami hit Japan, the guys at Woods Hole commented that if their project had seen fruition, the warning system would have been in place …

    a) Of course, you’d expect them to say that, wouldn’t you?

    b) Why is it the United States’ job to predict Japanese tsunamis? If Woods Hole wants to protect the Pacific Rim from tsunamis, maybe it should lobby the other governments of the Pacific Rim for funding.

    c) The Japanese tsunami, if my memory is correct, wasn’t exactly a surprise. Unlike the Boxing Day tsunami, the news choppers had live coverage of the wave coming in from a pretty great distance offshore. They did know it was coming, and evacuation procedures were well underway when it did make landfall.

    • #5
    • January 5, 2015, at 10:18 AM PDT
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  6. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    Oh, also, good article Rand. I especially liked the rundown of all the different private launch projects underway. Too many people seem to think that Virgin Galactic is the only game in town, for some reason.

    • #6
    • January 5, 2015, at 10:27 AM PDT
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  7. MarciN Member

    Misthiocracy:

    MarciN: … Years later when the tsunami hit Japan, the guys at Woods Hole commented that if their project had seen fruition, the warning system would have been in place …

    a) Of course, you’d expect them to say that, wouldn’t you?

    b) Why is it the United States’ job to predict Japanese tsunamis? If Woods Hole wants to protect the Pacific Rim from tsunamis, maybe it should lobby the other governments of the Pacific Rim for funding.

    c) The Japanese tsunami, if my memory is correct, wasn’t exactly a surprise. Unlike the Boxing Day tsunami, the news choppers had live coverage of the wave coming in from a pretty great distance offshore. They did know it was coming, and evacuation procedures were well underway when it did make landfall.

    :)

    • #7
    • January 5, 2015, at 10:42 AM PDT
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  8. SkipSul Moderator

    I remembered a Nova program on the Shuttle failures some years ago, and the show concluded that the Shuttle program, by the time it was in operation, had been stripped of any goals beyond its own perpetuation. Low earth orbit instead of the proposed higher orbits, an expensive launch system, no goals or capabilities beyond a very narrow envelope, etc. It was a dead end.

    Orion is supposed (eventually) to get us back to the moon, or to Mars even, but we don’t really know why anymore. Getting to the moon originally was to beat the Soviets – once we got there NASA ran out of things to do. Looking back it’s almost as if Spain, once Columbus had finished his voyages, had said, “That’s nice, now we’ll just build coastal vessels.”

    I am rooting for these commercial space guys, I still hope to make it up there.

    • #8
    • January 5, 2015, at 12:37 PM PDT
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  9. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    skipsul: Looking back it’s almost as if Spain, once Columbus had finished his voyages, had said, “That’s nice, now we’ll just build coastal vessels.”

    Spain had the benefit of really, really, really cheap gold and silver for the taking in the New World, not to mention slave labour to work plantations.

    (So cheap, in fact, that it caused a hyperinflation crisis in Spain.)

    Making moon colonies pay for themselves is a bit trickier.

    • #9
    • January 5, 2015, at 12:47 PM PDT
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  10. Gary McVey Contributor

    The Left says, “The electric car is ready today! Only the lack of a really good battery is holding us up”. Except they’ve been saying it since 1885 (I’m not exaggerating).

    The Right says, “Take off the government handcuffs and planetary travel will be two blinks away! Plus, private industry is champing at the bit to get up there and manufacture medicines, crystals, and microchips that aren’t possible outside of microgravity! Just imagine what old Doc Brown at Hill Valley City College will do when he can mine Helium 3″…Except that we’ve been saying it since 1975.

    Someday they’ll both be right. I’ve heard the stuff about the “we only need a battery” and “zero gravity crystals! Wait’ll Intel finds out…” for going on forty years now. I believe in private Space. But I’m not against government Space either. There are certain things that industry will not pay for. Intelsat and Apollo made a pretty good pair.

    • #10
    • January 5, 2015, at 12:59 PM PDT
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  11. SkipSul Moderator

    Misthiocracy:

    skipsul: Looking back it’s almost as if Spain, once Columbus had finished his voyages, had said, “That’s nice, now we’ll just build coastal vessels.”

    Spain had the benefit of really, really, really cheap gold and silver for the taking in the New World, not to mention slave labour to work plantations.

    Making moon colonies pay for themselves is a bit trickier.

    Of course NASA wasn’t in the business of making moon ventures profitable, merely technically attainable, which rather goes to the problem of NASA in the first place – what is supposed to do? Lacking any other clear goals it can ultimately only work to keep itself working, never a good policy for a government agency.

    • #11
    • January 5, 2015, at 1:05 PM PDT
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  12. SkipSul Moderator

    Gary McVey: The Left says, “The electric car is ready today! Only the lack of a really good battery is holding us up”. Except they’ve been saying it since 1885 (I’m not exaggerating).

    You ought to hear my in-laws. I’m in the damn business of power control and distribution on vehicles, but they would still rather believe that there is some great conspiracy (Exxon is the DEVIL!) holding back electric vehicles. Believe me, if any of the battery guys (and I know quite a few) figured out that part of the puzzle (and this is setting aside the issues of charging stations and power distribution) they’d be multi-gadzillionaires overnight. The battery business is completely cut-throat and any edge over competitors is worth big big bucks.

    • #12
    • January 5, 2015, at 1:10 PM PDT
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  13. Gary McVey Contributor

    Given the environmental standards of 1910-1980, if we’d gone with electrics rather than gasoline-fueled internal combustion, we’d now have hundreds of millions of poorly buried decaying lead-acid batteries as part of the water table, leaching poisons into the water and soil. Nothing comes without a cost, but our utopians rarely admit it.

    And I like electric cars. I’m just not unrealistic about them.

    • #13
    • January 5, 2015, at 1:24 PM PDT
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  14. John Walker Contributor

    Here, to my mind, is everything you need to know about NASA and its congressional masters in one slide.

    Augustine Commission: Workforce ImpactThis was slide 16 of a presentation by Wanda Austin on August 12th, 2009, at a meeting of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee chaired by Norman Augustine, titled “Evaluation Measures and Criteria” (PPT). This presentation gave criteria for ranking various proposals for human space flight programmes.

    One of the greatest costs of NASA human spaceflight is the “standing army” of personnel, both civil service and contractor, required to conduct them. The cost for this standing army is essentially fixed and varies only slightly with mission rate. This is the largest component of NASA’s budget which flows into congressional districts and states where NASA has facilities. Many proposals for reducing the cost of access to space concentrate on reducing the size of the standing army: if just a few people could launch a liquid fuelled ICBM in the 1960s, why should it take thousands to operate space launchers today?

    And yet in this slide, reducing the size of the standing army is a demerit for a proposed programme, while increasing it is deemed good.

    As I wrote at the time, “It’s official! NASA is a jobs program.”

    • #14
    • January 5, 2015, at 1:44 PM PDT
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  15. SkipSul Moderator

    Gary McVey:Given the environmental standards of 1910-1980, if we’d gone with electrics rather than gasoline-fueled internal combustion, we’d now have hundreds of millions of poorly buried decaying lead-acid batteries as part of the water table, leaching poisons into the water and soil. Nothing comes without a cost, but our utopians rarely admit it.

    And I like electric cars. I’m just not unrealistic about them.

    Like any tool, they have their costs and benefits, and they come with some heavy (I mean that literally) limitations.

    Right now the greenies have been demanding that utility vehicles be banned from extended engine-idle periods (this is law, BTW, in California). What they don’t realize is that those motors aren’t just running the A/C in the cab, they are also charging electric circuits to run lights, hydraulics, computers, safety gear, winch motors, crane motors, and other electrical loads. If the engine can’t idle, it has to carry lots of weight in batteries AND hardware to manage those batteries (particularly the charging and load management thereof), rather ruining their fuel economy. New CAFE standards are making it hard to equip said vehicles with V8’s and diesels, so compact turbo V6’s are the new norm, and you can’t bolt on a heavy duty alternator (so necessary to keep said battery banks charged) in the tight confines of their engine compartments.

    Sooo… expect to see these vehicles with gas-powered generators now (rather defeating the purpose of the regs eh?).

    • #15
    • January 5, 2015, at 1:45 PM PDT
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  16. John Hanson Thatcher

    I agree with the view that that slide treats NASA as a jobs program, not a science program, and that is a serious problem.

    But I think that slide represents assigning a parameter to a variable (Work force size) that can then be used in a dynamic modeling program to predict results of some effort. There would be other variables, and other parameters, and this one seems one of the weakest, not based on anything real, but with values assigned by the modeler, unrelated to real-world effects, and then the weighting of this variable relative to others also at the whim of the modeler, so the model will wind up showing what the modeler wants, and any relation to actual phenomena purely coincidental. Yet when presented in a serious forum, it carries weight and seems to have value, because of the complicated statistical processes going on, but its all garbage. Models are always models, and one really needs to see real data.

    • #16
    • January 5, 2015, at 3:44 PM PDT
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  17. Rand Simberg Inactive
    Rand Simberg Post author

    Well, NASA isn’t supposed to be (only) a science program, either. It’s supposed to advance technology, as the NACA, its predecessor, did. But there’s insufficient graft in that.

    • #17
    • January 5, 2015, at 4:05 PM PDT
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  18. John Walker Contributor

    Rand Simberg: It’s supposed to advance technology, as the NACA, its predecessor, did.

    Here is NASA’s official charter, the National Aeronautics and Space Act, Public Law 111-314. 124 Stat. 3328 (Dec. 18, 2010).

    There is little to disagree with in this. For example:

    20102(c) Commercial Use of Space.—Congress declares that the general welfare of the United States requires that the Administration seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space.

    20102(g) Warning and Mitigation of Potential Hazards of Near-Earth Objects.—Congress declares that the general welfare and security of the United States require that the unique competence of the Administration be directed to detecting, tracking, cataloguing, and characterizing near-Earth asteroids and comets in order to provide warning and mitigation of the potential hazard of such near-Earth objects to the Earth.

    But did you know?

    20113(j) Aliens.—In the performance of its functions, the Administration is authorized, when determined by the Administrator to be necessary, and subject to such security investigations as the Administrator may determine to be appropriate, to employ aliens without regard to statutory provisions prohibiting payment of compensation to aliens.

    I told you, but you wouldn’t believe!

    The problem is not the charter, but rather the things NASA is mandated to do (for example the Space Launch System) which make no sense whatsoever except as a jobs program for the constituencies of those in congress who required NASA to build it.

    NASA’s explanation of their mission could be improved by replacing references to “exploration” with “settlement” and/or “resource utilisation”, but the charter, as written, isn’t that bad. Somebody ought to implement it some day.

    • #18
    • January 5, 2015, at 4:42 PM PDT
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  19. Seawriter Member

    skipsul: Looking back it’s almost as if Spain, once Columbus had finished his voyages, had said, “That’s nice, now we’ll just build coastal vessels.”

    A better analogy would be the Chinese Star Raft expeditions of the 15th and 16th centuries. They sent expeditions with hundreds of ships and tens of thousands of men as far as the east coast of Africa (no they did not sail all around the world and into the Caribbean, no matter what Gavin Menzies says). Then, they pulled the plug, and literally outlawed ocean-going ships. Within three centuries (by the early 1800s) China’s abandonment of oceans and exploration left them vulnerable to exploitation by the Western barbarians – who were no longer barbarian and technologically far in advance of the Chinese.

    Seawriter

    • #19
    • January 5, 2015, at 5:43 PM PDT
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  20. Seawriter Member

    John Walker: And yet in this slide, reducing the size of the standing army is a demerit for a proposed programme, while increasing it is deemed good.

    A true story. Back in the 1980s I put together a white paper showing how GPS could cut the navigation staff for a future space station to 5% of what it would take using the then-existing methods for Shuttle ground-based navigation support.

    The paper was not only rejected by my then-bosses, I was told to destroy it and any copies I had produced. Why? Because Mission Operations Directorate was only interested in solutions that increased the number of engineers supporting manned space operations. So much so my company feared retaliation if one of their employees proposed something providing that much of a reduction in MOD staffing.

    (My argument was the people freed up could be used for other manned spaceflight efforts, but that did not matter. MOD would not necessarily get the benefit. Another space center might, and MOD did not want that.)

    Seawriter

    • #20
    • January 5, 2015, at 5:51 PM PDT
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  21. Gary McVey Contributor

    I recall film of JFK doing a hammy, funny bit of fake “candor” in a 1962 or ’63 speech talking before a Texas aerospace group boasting that “this country will soon fire the biggest payroll into space” (laughter) “I mean, uh, payload into space”. When North American Rockwell got the lead role on Apollo Command Module, management gave out hard hats with the agency’s logo rendered as “NA$A”.

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    • January 5, 2015, at 6:34 PM PDT
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  22. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    Gary McVey: I believe in private Space. But I’m not against government Space either. There are certain things that industry will not pay for. Intelsat and Apollo made a pretty good pair.

    Sure, strategic missions that benefit national defense (and international satellite communications definitely counts, even if they are civilian-oriented).

    Nobody serious is suggesting getting rid of the Air Force’s space command.

    • #22
    • January 6, 2015, at 8:00 AM PDT
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  23. Max Knots Member

    Seawriter: A true story. Back in the 1980s I put together a white paper showing how GPS could cut the navigation staff for a future space station to 5% of what it would take using the then-existing methods for Shuttle ground-based navigation support. The paper was not only rejected by my then-bosses, I was told to destroy it and any copies I had produced. Why? Because Mission Operations Directorate was only interested in solutions that increased the number of engineers supporting manned space operations. So much so my company feared retaliation if one of their employees proposed something providing that much of a reduction in MOD staffing. (My argument was the people freed up could be used for other manned spaceflight efforts, but that did not matter. MOD would not necessarily get the benefit. Another space center might, and MOD did not want that.) Seawriter

    This is depressing, but unfortunately, not surprising. It is what bureaucracies do and that’s what NASA has become. For a government entity, this is a feature, not a bug.

    This nicely explains why privately-funded commercial space exploration/exploitation is the best option. It’s not a perfect option because inevitably someone will try to establish a monopoly. But right now we already effectively have that monopoly – one run by the government. If not for the many examples of “abuse of official power” we’ve seen in the past 6 years, I’d be more sanguine about letting the government keep that monopoly…

    • #23
    • January 6, 2015, at 8:23 AM PDT
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  24. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    Seawriter:

    skipsul: Looking back it’s almost as if Spain, once Columbus had finished his voyages, had said, “That’s nice, now we’ll just build coastal vessels.”

    A better analogy would be the Chinese Star Raft expeditions of the 15th and 16th centuries. They sent expeditions with hundreds of ships and tens of thousands of men as far as the east coast of Africa (no they did not sail all around the world and into the Caribbean, no matter what Gavin Menzies says). Then, they pulled the plug, and literally outlawed ocean-going ships. Within three centuries (by the early 1800s) China’s abandonment of oceans and exploration left them vulnerable to exploitation by the Western barbarians – who were no longer barbarian and technologically far in advance of the Chinese.

    Seawriter

    That would only be an apt analogy if the only thing the Chinese expeditions ever discovered was barren irradiated rock incapable of sustaining life.

    • #24
    • January 6, 2015, at 9:00 AM PDT
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  25. Rand Simberg Inactive
    Rand Simberg Post author

    Actually, people miss the real lesson of the end of the Chinese maritime exploration program. It ended for much the same reason that Apollo did.

    • #25
    • January 6, 2015, at 9:31 AM PDT
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  26. Seawriter Member

    Misthiocracy: That would only be an apt analogy if the only thing the Chinese expeditions ever discovered was barren irradiated rock incapable of sustaining life.

    They did discover a lot of rocky reefs in the Pacific and Indian Oceans fitting that description. But those voyages were primarily launched for the same reasons as the Apollo program – national prestige. The really big ones (like the ones commanded by Zheng Ho) were real money sinks.

    Short term, the return on voyages did not match the investment. Long term, however, the Chinese paid heavily for abandoning the oceans. Through much of history China was the world’s maritime power. The Spanish and English were latecomers. Many thing associated with ships today were developed by the Chinese during their ocean-going days — magnetic compass, centerline rudder, and compartmentalization among them. But in the 1600s they turned their backs on the sea, until the sea brought them things that could not be wished away or ignored.

    Seawriter

    • #26
    • January 6, 2015, at 9:31 AM PDT
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  27. Seawriter Member

    Rand Simberg:Actually, people miss the real lesson of the end of the Chinese maritime exploration program. It ended for much the same reason that Apollo did.

    Great minds run along the same gutters.

    Seawriter

    • #27
    • January 6, 2015, at 9:32 AM PDT
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  28. Koblog Inactive

    I work for a company deeply rooted in space projects. I see value in satellites that —

    — watch the weather

    — provide communications (civilian and military)

    — provide advanced warning for enemy missile launches and

    — give America a serious military advantage over our enemies — even weaponizing space.

    I don’t see much use for space telescopes whose goal is pretty pictures and the search for extraterrestrial life. I don’t see much use in the Space Station. Perhaps I’m a victim of NASA’s PR failure, but what has the hundreds of billions of dollars spent for the last 55 years of manned space flight produced? The standard answer is Tang and Velcro. And International hugs in weightlessness. Oh, and studies with rats and mice.

    They promise mining riches in the distant future — the same riches promised Queen Isabella — but really, that is a stretch. At $10,000 per pound to launch stuff into LEO, I don’t see the value.

    • #28
    • January 6, 2015, at 12:57 PM PDT
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  29. Douglas Inactive

    Rand Simberg:The problem with space policy is that Congress (on a bipartisan basis) sees it as a pork program, and it’s not really important whether we accomplish anything with it.

    Doesn’t this pretty much explain everything the government buys? If we really wanted the best fighter, would we be buying F-35’s ? About an hour from where I live, the state of Alabama is going to spend 5 billion… mostly federal highway dollars alloted to the state… on a connecting highway between two interstates that no one wants, but 5 or 6 companies along the route are big political donors and they want easy and cheap shipping between Nashville and Atlanta, so Alabama will spend over 50 percent of their highway money for what is essentially a big subsidy to corporate interests in the area.

    • #29
    • January 6, 2015, at 1:46 PM PDT
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  30. Douglas Inactive

    Koblog:I work for a company deeply rooted in space projects. I see value in satellites that –

    – watch the weather

    – provide communications (civilian and military)

    – provide advanced warning for enemy missile launches and

    – give America a serious military advantage over our enemies — even weaponizing space.

    I don’t see much use for space telescopes whose goal is pretty pictures and the search for extraterrestrial life. I don’t see much use in the Space Station. Perhaps I’m a victim of NASA’s PR failure, but what has the hundreds of billions of dollars spent for the last 55 years of manned space flight produced? The standard answer is Tang and Velcro. And International hugs in weightlessness. Oh, and studies with rats and mice.

    They promise mining riches in the distant future — the same riches promised Queen Isabella — but really, that is a stretch. At $10,000 per pound to launch stuff into LEO, I don’t see the value.

    Orbiting telescopes are good because it’s the only way to do high level astronomy and astrophysics (along with radio telescopes). I mean, until we can actually get warp drive and physically go to these places, we have to settle for observing them from afar and learning what we can from that. That’s basic science research, and should continue. But I’m largely with you on manned space flight. The moonshot made sense because it was doable… three days there, three days back. But stuff like Mars? For all practical purposes, impossible to send men there and bring them back. Until propulsion technology changes, that’s the way it’s going to be. The only other practical manned exploration of space is landing a man on a comet or asteroid that comes nearby. We should do that. Otherwise, people should go into space on rockets to fix stuff in orbit, and then come right back. With the exception of sex and childbirth… two things we aren’t going to let happen in orbit… we basically know all we need to know about life in weightlessness right now.

    NASA should be broken up. USAF/Navy and the private sector can do payload ops in orbit, and the basic science part should be done by universities, private labs, and Federal institute dedicated to the pure research aspect of space. The “Aeronautics” part of NASA should probably be done by FAA anyway.

    • #30
    • January 6, 2015, at 1:55 PM PDT
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