Not just odd, but rare:
Since Barack Obama took office in 2008, U.S. space policy has shifted in a surprisingly free-market direction. Despite the Obama crowd’s general enthusiasm for big government, where space policy is concerned they’ve taken a decidedly different approach: Instead of building its own rockets as a replacement for the now-retired space shuttle, the federal government is now buying launch services from private companies that are largely free to build their own rockets and choose their own approaches.
There’s nothing new about this idea. The federal government did the same kind of thing in the 1920s with air mail contracts, and that program — along with wind tunnels and other R&D assistance provided by NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics — did a lot to establish U.S. dominance in civil and military aviation in the 20th Century. I wrote articles and position papers advocating such an approach more than two decades ago.
But now that it’s happening under the Obama administration, some conservatives are criticizing them. This led space expert (and former congressional staffer) Jim Muncy to comment “Democrats don’t think that capitalism works within the atmosphere, and Republicans apparently don’t think it works above it.”
But, in fact, capitalism works everywhere.
Indeed. And one of the reasons that we need to get into space as soon as possible is not (as I naively thought over thirty years ago, when I first got interested in this) because we are running out of earthly resources, but because we need a new frontier into which to expand human freedom, lest that, the most vital resource, be lost on humanity’s birth world.