3 thoughts on “A Space Program We Can Afford”

  1. I don’t know why it just crossed my mind. I don’t know if it was from an interview or his biography(or was it an autobiography) there was a criticism of NASA by Chuck Yeager, and he said something like how the biggest mistake for space, was taking the government aspect away from the AF/Military and giving it to NASA, and he had much the same arguments.

    A space program shouldn’t just be “successful” it should be practical.

    I think I’m remembering that right.

  2. Chair Force Engineer:
    That’s why SpaceX, Boeing/Bigelow and the others deserve the moral support of the nation. Their success ensures prestige and continued technical competitiveness for the United States. Their failure effectively cedes control of the spacefaring future to Russia and China.

    AFAIK, neither Bigelow nor SpaceX have ever made the preposterous claim that “control of the spacefaring future” depends on them. Or anything even resembling this remark. Of course, it doesn’t depend on NASA astronauts either.

    A crucial feature of a good market is what Joseph Schumpeter called “creative destruction.”

    A space example: do we really need Progress, the European ATV, the Japanese vehicle, Dragon, and Cygnus all delivering cargo to the ISS? Of course not. Most of them are going to fail at doing this task economically. The business should go to the best. Instead of having the hubris to claim to predict the best ahead of time, we should let them all play. (Whether we get that market-like outcome in this particular case, given that NASA is the only customer, and some of those providers are governments rather than private businesses, is another question — I’m just describing the outcome that would generally occur if it did work like a private market). BTW, even where it’s not a market, with good politics creative destruction should also apply to failed government programs, such as Constellation. But I now speak in distant ideals, of which we are hopefully now witnessing a rare realization.

    To get back to the original quote, it’s quite probable that out of Blue Origin, Kistler, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Bigelow, less than half of those companies will be around in ten years. That’s perfectly good creative destruction. Most startups fail and rightfully so. It would be a far worse outcome if they were still around but only as heavily subsidized zombies. If we can get back to an economy where we let bankrupt companies go bankrupt, and more generally let bad projects be canceled, instead of propping up zombie companies and zombie government bureaucracies, our economy will be strong again, and our technical competitiveness with it.

  3. As much as the VSE made a point of requesting a sustainable and economic program (in fact, it was the first point).. it’s not like the administration did anything to make that happen. As you’ll often hear, there was widespread bi-partisan support for Constellation, even though it was obvious from how much money they were asking for that it was neither.

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