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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Space, The Final Frontier...someday

I have strong opinions. Overall, Obama will go down in history as, at best, a mediocre President. As strong as my opinions are on Obama, they are even more solid on manned space flight. To put it succinctly:

We need to go there. NOW. We should have had Lunar colonies since the 1960's, and should be establishing thriving colonies on Mars by now. The first manned missions to Titan should have launched about two years ago. The population in low to mid Earth orbit should be in the tens of thousands by now.

NASA was a mistake, born out of panic and politics. Don't get me wrong. The men and women of NASA were true heroes. My earliest memory is watching a Gemini mission. But the X-Plane pilots called Mercury "spam in a can" for good reasons. We sacrificed the amazing strides of the X-Plane missions for a quick, dirty, expensive, bureaucratic way to beat the Soviets.

Had we continued the amazing progress, a combination of military and civilian greatness, of the X-Plane series, we would have accomplished all the things in my second paragraph, and then some.  We were well on our way to reusable flight to low earth orbit in the late 1950's! Sputnik brought all that progress to a halt.

So now, here we are, with three Space Shuttle flights left. After those flights, the United States will have no capability to enter low Earth orbit, let alone go back to the Moon, Mars or anywhere else. For the forseeable future, we will be paying for rides from the people who created Sputnik all those decades ago.

This was not Barack Obama's fault. The short-sightedness of America's space program dates back 60 years. While I wanted more, much more, than what Obama proposed, the proposed plan may be the best we can do right now.  Sad, very sad, but true.

Obama has decided to fund private space industries. It's about time.  Had the decision been made to pump money in to private space flight sixty years ago, we would not be talking about a Mars trip in 2035. Men, women and children would already be there.

The key will be for the Obama administration to fund the private enterprise, and then LEAVE IT ALONE. Government meddling will only slow down whatever progress is made. It would be a change in style and philosophy for a big government liberal like Obama to actually leave anyone alone. But that's what needs to happen. If he does, the jobs lost at NASA will quickly be gained as individuals, private individuals, take the necessary steps to the planets, then the stars.

4 comments:

  1. "If he does, the jobs lost at NASA will quickly be gained as individuals, private individuals, take the necessary steps to the planets, then the stars."

    Hi Mark. One of the big rubes going around is that NASA employees will have no where to go. That's complete poppycock. I have a friend working for one of those private companies here in CA. They have a first launch scheduled for late this year. They are hiring NASA folks like crazy:

    http://www.spacex.com/company.php

    If Private Industry can make a business case for Space Travel (colonization, exploration to mine resources, etc), it will happen. But not to worry my friend, space exploration will continue: http://redsatellites.blogspot.com/2010/02/vasimr-voyage.html

    Mars will happen. There are too many smart rich entrepreneurs working it as we speak.

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  2. I kinda had mixed feelings about this whole thing. Theoretically I definitely agree with you that NASA is slow and wasteful. When I first heard about Obama's new plan on Coast to Coast AM, it sounded like a reasonable idea to me, and the UFO-fanatics on that show seemed to support it also. But on the other hand, I heard Rush Limbaugh recently making the argument that NASA should be government-run because it has military applications.

    I think I mostly agree with you, though.

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  3. It is truly bizarre that we have sacrificed blood and treasure fighting evil forces over every square inch of land, but we are willing to turn over the rest of the universe to the Chinese and Russians.

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  4. What makes us think we should colonize Mars when we can't drill a simple hole in the Gulf without making a muck of it? Or, put a lander on a moon without wondering what the heck happened to it? This socialist wannabe can't even get a stimulus package stimulating.

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