Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why private industry can do it better, cheaper, etc.

Why is this always a debate? I've answered this 100 times over, but am always asked the same questions in whatever forum I'm in. First, I'll address questions including my answer:

1. Are you saying that private industry will go to space without taxpayer financing? Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.

2. If so, what's stopping them? ITAR and a host of bull crap regulation created by the government, preventing the sharing and utilization of space technologies for private space based operations. This is currently agreed upon by many, even some in government, and is being rectified, hopefully sooner than later.

3. Or are you saying that private industry would do a better, cheaper job than NASA if the taxpayers give them money? Nope, private industry can do it on their own if the playing field is leveled. NASA's role is NOT what it's doing now. It's spread too thin. The private industry should have taken up LEO operations years ago, including building the rockets.

4. If so, wouldn't there still be some government oversight (to watch out for the taxpayers billions)? Proper government oversight and regulation, yes, like the rules protecting airline passengers, but nothing more drastic than that. Fly at your own risk does have its place in space as it does in driving, aircraft flying, etc.

5. And isn't that like the current system? NASA contracts out almost everything, don't they? NASA Contractors are NOT private industry as far as I'm concerned. They don't create a product that is used by the general marketplace. They create a product specifically for government. They are beholden to government and sell to the government. That is not a private industry, that's a government contractor. I want a ride to space dammit. I'm sick of the government picking people from a select pot. Everyone should be able to go if they want too.

6. Explain this mantra, "...private industry can do it better, cheaper, etc." Here you go...

a. Private space must do it cheaper in order to be financially viable. The government doesn't give a damn about making profit, but are REAL good at over inflating costs due to asinine regulations and rules. Private industry must provide a viable product at a reasonable price for the public to afford it, so with this necessity, they must do it better and cheaper.

b. Private space must do it safely else they are toast, period. One accident and their out of business. Not so good for the bottom line.

c. Part b cannot conflict with part a. It must be reasonable, unlike NASA which makes safety so damn paramount that it takes 5 people to verify the turning of a stupid bolt. There's your cost balloon right there.

7. Economic Incentive?

a. Moon: Research Facility to be rented out to global corporations for special research that just can't be done on Earth (major revenue for that alone). Vacation Resort (modest revenue, maybe breaking even, but vital to getting many people to experience space and bring that memory home to share, which is priceless). Fuel depot with local mining for the fuel depot, but also for other materials to be used In Situ (instrumental for further advancement into space).

b. Asteroids: All about mining here. Not much else I can think of to use an asteroid for other than monitoring, but no profit in monitoring.

c. Mars: Squat. Everything Mars offers is available on Earth. Mars is another resource limited location that's a pain to get too right now with current technology. Yes, good place to move too if all hell breaks loose on Earth, but tourism, mining, etc. is already accounted for with the Moon and asteroids...at least until we develop gravity drives and glide around effortlessly through space. But then, everything changes.

And lastly, a statement I addressed: There is no product on the Moon, Mars nor NEA/NEOs that makes economic sense to bring back to Earth and get a profit.

NONE of this depends on bringing anything back to Earth, except knowledge from research and research experiments themselves. Everything else is to be done in space to be used in space, to get us AWAY from Earth, not to bring it back.

Any more questions?


Norman Copeland said...


1. You should consider what 'Cadbury's' chocholate could do for space.

2. The American quarter of Amsterdam Holland has very liberal policy and political administration [though it is a red light district].

3. It's like when Charles Darwin went to Australia to organise agriculture land for England and it didn't work out because the wet season was so hostile.

4. I thought the Human Space flight report needed attention.

5. I erm, sort of like that [USAF men]

6. What is the private industry motive.

7. Who want's money in space? China?

dad2059 said...

Space (Lagrange Points) or lunar settlements would be great for folks with heart conditions.

I wouldn't mind living in 1/6 or 1/2 gravity.

I can take calcium for the bone loss.

Bartacus said...

Re: who wants money in space?

People living there. The current occupants of ISS don't count--they live in Houston, if they're American astronauts--everything is provided for them up there and anything they buy is on Earth. The whole point of a "space economy" or "space civilization" (as opposed to the "space industry") is that they involve people making lives for themselves in places off the Earth. That means starting businesses, having families, creating art, engaging in local politics, and and worshipping their gods.

That's the long-term view, but that's the point of getting people into space. NASA is not built to do that sort of work, nor can they promote it if they wanted to do so.

Norman Copeland said...

Ok, this really addressing because I know what I'm talking about and this to me sounds like the exact opinion that 'we' scientists spend so much time worrying about [the red tape creators].

First, which I beleive is most important to address is:

1.You do not believe it possible to have a family without money?

2.You do not believe people can engage in local politics without money?

3. And insanely, you do not beleive people can create art without money?

4. And, it doesn't sound like you've spoken to our god recently, because I'll you, you don't money to do that?

Or is the church planning something I don't know?

That is capitalist death.

Economy's are not based on money. Ok.

Economics = Economy = how to save = how to save = how to operate = how to operate = how.

That does not = money.

Your talking to me like I'm an idiot, I have a masters degree, who are you trying to educate. You should consider the connotations of the consequences of your postings, because of the people who actually read what your saying.

You want to tell youngsters they can't go into space without money?

That is everything I'm against, and as someone who actually want to go into space, I beleive as a journalist you are someone who should really take a good look at you've said in public.

You should be ashamed yourself.

Thats my opinion.

And getting redder by the minute.

Douglas Mallette said...

Norman - Huh? What the hell are you talking about? People do need money to get into space, especially the people who start the whole thing rolling. It's not going to be free to establish a space infrastructure, that's for sure. And it will cost to get to space, I just hope it drops to the current cost of airfare. We pay for that travel service, why not the travel service to the stars?

You need money for everything, to live, to eat, to exist in today's world. We don't live in a free Utopia. lol.

Not sure where your bad mood came from, cuz I've never seen you act like this, but I agree with what Bartacus says here, "That means starting businesses, having families, creating art, engaging in local politics, and worshiping their gods."

The point of human expansion into space, in the long run, is that the people of "space" do exactly the same things the people of "Earth" do, just in a different location. True inclusive expansion of everything...except hopefully petty fighting and stupid resource wars.

And I disagree with the notion that economies don't equal money. Yes they do, well, technically they equal goods and services, but since we all use money as tender for goods and services, it's just as good as saying economy = money.

You must have forgotten your coffee this morning. Let's start over. lol.

Norman Copeland said...

You see, that's the difference with nations of this world. Some talk while existing inside an utter and complete falacy, and some actually care enough to go and explore the worlds culture's and opinion's.

There, my friends, I realise it easy to seperate the dangers of this world and the trouble's with sorting out to the righteous path.

I've seen the money spent on the Chinese space programme. I've seen the money that the American's spent developing the same applications.

And, trust me, I know who is who with guile and economic spending.

The thing about American people is, north American people is that they really struggle to comprehend history before independance day.

Intrisically speaking, the concept of anything outside of modern America seem's to be a distinct difficulty for American people, i.e the system of barter is emphatically a larger part of human history than money.

Let me spell this out for you. Paper money, represent the gold it can be swapped for at the bank. That gold represent a maleable substance which is the most valuable for a goldsmith to work with.

I can tell you this as someone who has been involved for 22 years and has a masters degree in this field.

Before barter communities were to small for the need for paid transactions.

Similiarly will be so with modern communities in space.

It is your own imagination my friends that binds you to a falacy.

Douglas Mallette said...

1. I'm well aware of global history, but I live today and am concerned with tomorrow. I never was a history buff.

2. We don't even really use the gold standard anymore, almost no one does. Yes, gold is out there, but no longer the basis for money. Money seems to be more based on itself than anything else.

Now, the problem with your analogy is that space communities are completely dependent on the Earth community, at first. 200 years down the road, as long as the new colony has means to make its own food, sustain itself without Earth help, and provide its own transportation around the solar system, then it may break off and form it's own economic structure. Until then, things will be bought on Earth and sent to the colony. They will not be self sufficient.

So the people living there, if they want to live, will have to buy things from Earth to survive, as I said, until they become self sufficient.

Rich said...

Oof - first coffee of the morning isnt really kicking in yet so I'll steer clear of the money talk.

Quick thought on asteroids though. Take one small asteroid, nudge into earth orbit - being very very careful to get your figures right first :)
Would give you a) a test bed for NEO deflection and defense schemes and b) the mother of all space habitats once it arrives in earth orbit and you hollow it out a bit. Fuel depot, orbital shipyard, really really big space station, not to mention source of a lot of the raw materials to build all these - got you covered on all of that.

Sci-fi? Most likely. Too expensive to ever work? Dunno. Insanely cool? Oh yes.

- Rich

Norman Copeland said...

Ok, I realise my academic attitude to this situation could be less rigid, it hinge's upon drawing upon historic evidence which could be the instigator of modern off planet communities.

My own frustration at not being off planet giving a thorough prognosis requires me to address the conversation as is encouraged with Douglas's quite capable summary considering american space economic's, but, perhaps my conversation could flourish with a branching to conversation more aptly conspired of space ethics. I'll tell the truth, I like the idea of walking into a frontier and conquering it with sheer hard work and resilience.

Such is the making of modern america as will the pioneers of the gold rushes testify.

Many modern universities offer space politics degree's.

Your right, I can't build spaceship rocket's on this planet If I do not utilise the infrastructure of the modern western world which is based upon resources quantified as money {gold}.

The pyramid on the dollar bill is historically nice to look at.

For Bartacus, perhaps I should be ashamed of myself for my inability to be the man I want to be, and perhaps my dislike of myself shows in the modern world.

I shall consider this while I hope you except my invitation as a continuing conversationist adding wether emotional or academic opinion to this blog.

Douglas Mallette said...

Norman - Yes, you are welcome to stay on board and engage in conversation. Just mellow out a bit. lol.

GDI said...

I like this article on privatization. I believe SpaceX is an example of a private enterprise that is doing it right now. I could be wrong about this ultimately, but as of today, SpaceX has developed the Falcon 9 and the Dragon capsule for about $300 million and in Feb 2010, they will fly an orbital test flight of Dragon and Falcon 9.

In comparison, NASA spent billions of dollars for a suborbital test of Ares I.

While the Ares I was test flight was successful and I applaud NASA for the success, I wonder if we had given those same billions to a winning bidder and instead, defined a mission, and said, go build it - what would have been the outcome?

We may have had an orbital test flight of a human rated launcher and capsule.

Norman Copeland said...

It is interesting to note that America's richest men are not involved with the space business?


Wouldn't someone like Bill gate's have huge support to build infrastructure in space, considering the number of legal battles and licenses he and his company have won.

The Bill gate's foundation concentrate's on what?
I'm not sure, but, as some advocating job's for america from space business would say that's a lot of money for that...

Jared said...

@Norman Copeland

Your grammatical skills are that of a child.

How can someone take your argument seriously when you don't understand simple grammar concepts?

Examples include:

You're and Your usage

Apostrophe Use

Punctuation of a question

Also, most of your posts are run-on sentences filled with fallacies. We haven't used the gold standard in America for over thirty years. As far as the Bill and Melinda Gate's foundation is concerned, they focus mainly on enhancing healthcare and reducing extreme poverty on a global scale. In America their main focus is to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology. They're easily one of the most generous organizations to ever exist. In my opinion, they distribute their resources in a way that is aimed at changing people's everyday lives around the world. Do you know how much scrutiny they would get funding any type of space travel?

That being said, I am a very strong proponent for funding space programs and believe that commercial space travel is going to be the next step. We need the private sector to get more involved, compete with each other, and get in the public eye. Money will follow. Merchandising and advertising rivaling any sports team could be possible. Space programs and their surrounding technologies need to become as cool as science fiction. I propose that people involved in marketing, entertainment, and similar fields who claim to be advocates for space go out and get other people excited. That's the first step if you're a true space advocate.

Arguing about space economics is ridiculous considering the current situation we're in. From an outside observer the answer is obvious. Privatized space travel is going to be a success if we allow it to be. It needs to be a profitable endeavor in the long-term. We need to cut down on the amount of regulation required to get off this planet and allow private businesses to compete with each other to drive technology forward.

This brings me to another thought. Right now, I think the youth of today aren't interested in space technology nearly enough. If you were to survey an average 5th grade classroom in America, I doubt any of the students would see themselves pursing anything having to do with space travel. This is something that would change drastically if NASA became cool again. Alternately, Sir Charles Branson has it right. Virgin Galactic is one of the most exciting things on the horizon for my generation. The ability to travel to space is going to be amazing. It's something that I sincerely look forward to, and foresee happening in my lifetime for the middle-class.

But seriously, I laughed out loud when I read your post.

"Your talking to me like I'm an idiot, I have a masters degree, who are you trying to educate. You should consider the connotations of the consequences of your postings, because of the people who actually read what your saying."