Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What Would $700 Billion Do?

I have a simple thing for you to ponder. I could look at the overall entirety of the money spent thus far by the Obama Administration is their effort to "save" the American Economy, but I will focus on just one thing, the $700 billion Stimulus Package that was passed very rapidly after Inauguration Day, which was primarily designed to save/create jobs.

Since then, our unemployment rate has gone from 8% to 9.5% and is forecast do go double digit very soon. We've lost over a million jobs since January, and things have slowed, not gotten "instantly" better, which was basically what was promised and why the rush was on to pass such an expensive spending instantly fix the universe.

I'd like you to think for a minute what $700 billion (almost 40 times the current NASA budget) would do if it was simply dumped into the space industry (Public and Private) with a concerted focus on the following:

1. Investing in the development of advanced launch systems (ex: mass driver) and propulsion systems (ex: plasma and EM drives). Basically COTS D on steroids.

2. Establish a Lunar Construction Foundation (not actually building anything yet, but laying the foundation with orbiting fuel depots around Earth and the Moon, robotic missions for Lunar Construction Analysis and Mining Operations, etc).

3. Private Industry assumes control of the ISS (US parts) taking the burden off NASA books, including manning ISS Mission Control. NASA still finishes construction with ramped up Shuttle Flights. Get it done in just 1 year!

4. Develop and launch private space industry hotels as proof of concepts and subsequent implementation by the private industry alone. The money helps them get rolling and build customer base.

5. Invest in Lunar Outpost Operations and Missions using federally laid foundation (robotic and manned operations).

6. Invest in serious Space Based Solar Power development, implementation and utilization.

7. Develop international partners to join in on the task and contribute FAIR financial investments to participate based on the role they play in whatever the operation is. We're not footing the bill for them.

All of this with the purpose of building and maintaining a MANNED private space industry in LEO, GEO and on the Lunar surface, using NASA ONLY as the foundation builder and high end R&D developer, not in operations and further development.

Apollo alone directly employed over 400,000 people, and gave rise to who knows how many ancillary jobs because those employees now had money to spend on other industries (cars, vacations, clothes, etc), keeping those people gainfully employed and working as well. Imagine how many people would be employed directly by such a large Lunar/LEO/GEO development program, especially since the program is more geared towards establishing the private space industry, so the jobs would stay and not just disappear when the program was over (like the issue we're running into now with the ramp down of the Shuttle Program).

Imagine the education lift in math, science and technology when young people see first hand the serious and palatable results of the industry being fortified, developed and used. They would KNOW their education could land them a job in space, literally. Now consider the technological advancements, the spin off advancements, that would benefit health care, energy, etc.

Just something to consider as we watch our government spend billions of dollars, yet we see little return on the huge investment.


milleronic said...

Man, I'd love to live in that world.

Keith Henson said...

After a few years of design to cost effort, I came up with a proposal to get the cost to GEO under $100/kg, power sat energy down to 1-2 cents per kWh and gasoline for about a dollar a gallon.

Google oil drum henson for a long paper on it.

The proforma analysis came in at just short of $60 billion. (plus or minus perhaps 20%)

Keith Henson

Douglas Mallette said...

milleronic - Ditto.

Keith - I think $700 bil could cover that. lol. See, we always spend money is the most stupid of places.

Norman Copeland said...

This man is trying to sort the space programme status...