Tuesday, February 2, 2010

NewSpace 1 -- Govt. Space 0

Okay, not exactly zero. NASA still serves a vital role in the advancement of humanity into space, but WOW, I find it hilarious that there are so many people who consider Obama's new direction for space as a death blow to NASA. If you're one of those people, quit crying in your beer for a moment and think about this:

The politicians most affected by this new direction will fight for NASA, not because of their love of space, but because of their passion for getting re-elected. They just want to make their constituents happy by "fighting for their jobs", even though it's obviously time for NASA to move into a different and more productive direction. This is exactly the kind of nonsense that gives NASA ulcers and prevents them from doing all things for all people. Politics screws up everything, period. This is mostly the reason why I'm shocked at this new Obama stance on space, because he's actually encouraging the privatization of space, versus expanding the government part. Somewhat against his character as of late, but I'll take it.

Commercial space should have been supported and developed for LEO operations years ago, and NASA should NOT be building rockets anymore. I guess one could say that they don't build them in the first place. Boeing, Lockheed and the other major contractors build the rockets, but NASA provides the requirements and has their noses in the mix every chance they get. Rocket science is no longer rocket science, if you know what I mean, and there are more competent players in the game than just NASA.

As I said in my last blog article, 'Former NASA Administrator Speaks About HSF Future', NASA engineers are not smarter than engineers at the private space companies. They all have quality educations and can produce results. The key is, which ones are bogged down by the political winds, and which ones aren't.

NASA should be building Moon Bases, and/or long range spacecraft to asteroids and Mars. The only way to do that is to shed off tasks that are no longer required, passing them to an industry that will drive our national economy in the direction of advanced technology and a true space age.

This is finally the right move. I'm not happy about losing the Moon return, but I knew this would come at a price. My hope is that Commercial Space will see all that new found water on the Moon as a lure, and cause them to want to build a base there, with or without government help.

As for those of you who question going back to the Moon, what did we really do the first time? Drive a dune buggy, hit a golf ball and bring back some rocks? Seriously? We didn't really do anything ON the Moon, we just went there to lay flags and footprints in an effort to one-up the USSR. Whoopie fraggin do.

The reason to go back is to USE the Moon, not just visit it. To make it a research station, to make it a vacation spot, to make it a fuel station, to make it whatever else is beneficial to the advancement of science, knowledge, and exploring further into space. THAT is the reason for going back to the Moon, and it needs to be done. If the governments of the world don't want to work together to make that happen, then NewSpace will.


Bartacus said...

I will write more about this later, but I think you're missing some crucial political realities about this decision. Short version: to turn over LEO to the private sector without pushing the envelope beyond that is missing something crucial about the space enterprise. You can't inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists with an orbital taxi service.

Marcel F. Williams said...

Looks like there going to increase the funding for my favorite white elephant (the ISS) even more. They plan to increase the annual ISS budget to more than $3 billion a year after 2013.

Could you imagine what kind of space station program we could really have if that money were invested in building a heavy lift vehicle? We could launch large and spacious customized Skylab-like space stations for scientist and for the commercial space tourism industry. And, of course, the HLV could be used to place habitat modules on the lunar surface.

There's no way you can continue to maintain support from Congress and the public for a $19 billion a year space program with no goals to really do anything! Expect huge budget cuts for NASA in the future if this plan goes through!

Norman Copeland said...

It's what the animal drag's in that politician's are best at when considering decisions, and like myself many people are disillusioned as what the monster economy of China brings to ''our'' planetary table.

I agree with Douglas many recent post that we absolutely resolutely 'must' support our infrastructure upon it's moment of need regardless of the perception we have of it.

I believe that intrinsically we are fighting for our futures, and that I put my life on. So, as Douglas say's, we need ground support for the small to medium enterprizes {SME's] in America and should continue to scout the crevices of America's opportunist's that want the business and tax money staying in America, why, because at the very basic the building infrastructure for launch sites needs to be on American soil, I personally believe that America needs 5 more cities the size of New York, but, it's something I've been looking at.

Greatfully, we have one of our own at Spacex [Elon Musk] at work on the rocket building and launch mechanism, but, he needs help in the rank's, with financial levies, special tax breaks and brand consumer loyalty, but, really the emphasis is on the momentum for the creation and development for American businessman of this generation who will be putting ''our'' bread on the table.

Bingo, spaceadvocate... On the button again.

Looking around the world, some perhaps would of said, a valuable summary of what many perceive as a water tight situation.

Douglas Mallette said...

Bartacus - I know we discussed this in Facebook email, but I want to post my points here for public consumption. I'm sure we'd have had the same debate on here if I could access comments while at work, but I'll summarize what you said in case you don't want anything you said posted. I respect privacy. lol. So here we go:

My initial reply to you - I think you're missing a large point, and that is that NewSpace isn't just a taxi service, it also provides a destination: Bigelow Hotels, and whatever other company wants to get into that game once he pulls it off. So now you have location and transport covered.

Plus there are other options out there for building Moon Bases besides that which NASA has researched, if anything, and that can be a commercial enterprise as well. I really don't know what thought they've put into actually building a Moon Base though.

And if you think NewSpace is going to stop at LEO, I don't think you understand the passion, drive and desire out there in the Commercial Space Industry for our true goal of human expansion into space.

You - Private sector is selling soul to Govt. No profit in exploration, which is why Govt. does it, then private follows. The Govt. built ISS, not Commercial. NASA should push the frontier while Commercial walks behind. Not sold on Commercial interplanetary spacecraft, no market. Build Govt. Moon/Mars base, market will follow, but won't lead.

Me - For now, that's all they can do, but I don't think that will last. Branson and Virgin Galactic aren't in bed with the government. A boost in one side of commercial space (SpaceX, Orbital), will end up benefiting the other side, his side. Yes, I know he's sub-orbital...for now. As investors see NewSpace as a real venture, things will progress.

I agree that NASA should be exploring. That's their job. LEO ops is not their job, time to pass the buck, which is what's happening. And private industry could not build the ISS because federal regulations (ITAR) and military cold war paranoia prevented it. It's not like NewSpace couldn't do it. They simply weren't allowed to do it. Big difference.

As for the economics, I think we are going to start seeing fundamental cracks develop in the Monetary System as it's employed today. As costs start to seriously impede growth, more people are going to get fed up with that scenario, and a shift in thinking will occur. It's already happening on a base level. Most people already hate money and how stressed and stratified it makes us.

Technology gives us abundance, but the current economic structure depends on scarcity. Something's got to give, and I don't think it will be technology, the one thing that can give a better life to all people of the world, if utilized correctly.

And as you know, space exploration helps develop that technology for use at home, so this will be an interesting unfolding of economics, innovation, development and advancement.

You - Here's hoping for a revolution in nanotech, because a revolution from space is a long way in the offing, IMHO. Gonna be an interesting century.

Me - Agreed (on the interesting century bit).

Douglas Mallette said...

Marcel - ISS isn't a white elephant. Only now is it fully operational, and they've already done amazing medical science. I can't wait to see what else happens, especially once the private industry can take up whomever they want.

Norman - Thanks.