Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A step in the right direction

NASA and SpaceX have announced that a SpaceX Falcon rocket will be launched on November 30 and dock with the ISS on December 7.  This is part of a move to shift a portion of the space missions for the United States to private launch companies. 

This is where I agree with others about how the U.S. space industry needs to be run.  NASA has changed a lot from the 1960's.  Where in the Gemini and Apollo eras NASA was using cutting edge technology and methods to push towards a goal, it's been muddled ever since in trying to justify its existence.  Now that technology and capital have been developed to make at least the low earth orbit part of NASA's mission a commercially viable option, NASA can contract out the day to day launches and do what it seems to be doing well:  exploration using unmanned probes.

I will probably never be able to afford a trip to space, and I doubt it will be economical enough for my children to do it in their lifetime.  But if someone can figure out a way to get into orbit at low rates, I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't become affordable for my grandchildren.  If we are ever to do more than voyages of discovery outside of our atmosphere, there has to be a profit motive.  Columbus, Cortez, Cartier, and Hudson may have been successful explorers who were financed by governments, but it was the settlements like Jamestown and Saint Augustine that were settled by people motivated by not much more than a yearning to do better economically that opened up the New World.  The same will probably be true of space.  NASA and the other governmental space organizations will do exploration, but the wish to find riches will drive the masses of people and equipment that will be necessary to colonize and exploit the rest of the solar system.


Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

It's also important to remember that even though they were financed by governments, Columbus, Cortez, et. al., were still motivated by profit.

DaddyBear said...

Good Point. Ferdinand and Isabella didn't give Columbus three leaky old ships out of the goodness of their heart.

While there has been technology from NASA programs that has leaked into the general market, I think a lot of those days are past. The times when NASA and other government agencies were generations ahead of what we can get from HP or IBM are over.

Old NFO said...

I TRULY hope this works...

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