Back To Basics

Stephen Smith has a post on NASA’s charter, and what it is and isn’t. It got waylaid by Apollo, but it’s time to restore things to what was originally envisioned. Though as I note in comments over there, space exploration wasn’t given to a civilian agency because of concerns over the military being a hide-bound bureaucracy.

8 thoughts on “Back To Basics”

  1. I’ve been saying this for a long time but I’m just a voice crying in the wilderness.

  2. It was fine, until I got to the comment “The other [side] is interested in profit.” That really ticked me off.

    Who is not interested in profit? The founders of SpaceX? Or any of the other commercial space flight companies? If so, I wouldn’t want to ride in their rockets.

    I am sick and tired of the thoughtless demonization of people and organizations as “only interested in profit”. It’s a throwaway line when one has nothing, or has run out of things, to say. Profit is what makes our economic system work. Take away the profit, and the system will collapse, and there is no better one to take its place.

    I left further comments at the site.

  3. But Bart, how will they ever achieve the Marxist utopia if they don’t relentlessly demonize profit. You’re not against utopia are ya?

  4. The above comments aside, I get his point that we need to stop obsessing over ‘how’ and get back to ‘what.’

  5. Back to the basics? More like back to the drawing board. I wonder if Rand seriously believes that even a tenth of the Augustinos feel as he does–if so, they definitely lost out when we finally got a whiff of the turd in the latest budget request.

    The vast majority of NASA’s budget is pandering to every constituency except the private sector; or at least the private sector not in the business of servicing the wants and desires of any scientist or engineer on a government payroll, contract, or generous grant. If this were the late 18th century, Augustine would’ve chucked the land survey system and spent his days innovating a newer and better way to build a canoe.

    Space is a frontier, and if you’re serious about developing for the prosperity of the American citizen–let alone all mankind–you have to survey the damned thing. Not for scientific posterity. Not for faddish firsts. You do it so that people can make money the way they’ve done in every frontier for the past hundred millenia–by settling it.

    Now tell me how you manage that without making the investments that the private sector can’t and won’t muster on its own? Show me any firm that’s acted without state guarantees when the up front capital has to depreciate over the better part of a century? You won’t, because we’re well beyond the familiar ground of shipbuilding–with its own incredible risks and overcapacity–and into the bizarro world of land reform.

  6. It was formed because Eisenhower wanted to show that (unlike the USSR with its military program) our plans for space exploration were peaceful, not militaristic.

    That was his stated reason, but I think that President Military-Industrial Complex had more of an eye on being seen by history as the Peace Hero President (the disaster of Korea was still fresh in people’s minds, after all) just as he had previously been the War Hero General. IGY ’58 was a fortuitous cover, but if you’re going to try to argue that NASA wasn’t originally conceived, in large part and knowingly by Eisenhower, as a weapon in the Cold War, you’re kidding yourself or trying to kid the rest of us. Number one, top priority from NASA’s inception was to beat the Soviets. If you say that you want NASA to live up to it’s original charter, I’m with you, but to say that it’s, “time to restore things to what was originally envisioned,” is to argue that we should restore something that never was.

    And this, IMO, is the largest problem you’ve got when you argue that ObamaSpace can somehow fix NASA. You’re fighting against the nature of the organization and the nature of politics itself. We’re still competing with the Soviets (because the Soviets, who like to call themselves “Russians” now, are still competing with us) and politicians, those who control the purse strings, are still self-serving users. NASA is still a weapon in this competition and whether the contractors are ULA or SpaceX or Commercial Provider Z doesn’t matter.

  7. The problem seems to be that the charter is over broad which allows anyone in charge to pick and choose. It might have made sense when written but we now live in an age where there is a significant lack of character. They can just ignore sections and invent others… if you want to look under the hood… why that’s just offensive!

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