Roger Handberg says it’s time for space advocates to move beyond the old false paradigm.
Our buddy Mark is at it again in the comments section of that article, going after commercial space, calling it Solyndra-like. What about this is he not getting???
It would be easier to list the things he does understand than the things he doesn’t.
I don’t see how anyone could be ridiculous enough to write off commercial space as “solyndra-like” at this point. The Dragon is already cost competitive with the ATV and the Shuttle in delivering cargo (it will become even more worthwhile with the Falcon 9 v1.1), and it is the only vehicle currently capable of returning substantial cargo to Earth. And SpaceX has already performed 17% of their contracted deliveries to ISS.
This is much different from a company dicking around and flushing money down a toilet without producing anything of substance and then going out of business.
There are no bounds to how ridiculous Mark can be.
And yet this article’s author also says that NASA should have a primary goal of “human exploration” in space. “Exploration” by NASA bureaucrats, of course.
The time of “exploration” has passed, it’s another relic of the “space race” mindset. it’s time to move on to fostering settlement and exploitation.
A good analogy I would provide here is the Portuguese Age of Discovery. Prince Henry the Navigator, having found himself Grand Master of the religious Order of Avis and keeper of its enormous wealth, funded at great cost the navigation that discovered and latter settled the Azores and Madeira. But the venture itself was a flop commercially and after he was dead the King gave a concession to a private merchant named Fernao Gomes to explore commercially the limits of the previously explored African coast in the condition he explored another given amount of miles of coast and claimed them for the crown. There Fernao and his men discovered gold veins and started trading the local melegueta spice becoming immensely rich. The King later started a trade outpost near this location which became one of the first Portuguese bases in the African Coast. Eventually sugar plantation was also started in Madeira and that exploration paid off for itself as well.
So in the short term that exploration could have been considered a commercial failure and it was so for several generations.
There is no way this venture is going to succeed without commercialization. Programs like COTS are essential to bootstrap the necessary components for maintaining a space base and eventually larger vehicles like Falcon-9 should enable not only station construction but lunar exploration as well. At that point it is better for the government to grant incentives or concessions to the private market rather than doing it themselves. IMHO NASA should be presently restricting themselves to an advisory and advanced R&D role. Which they have managed to do well enough in COTS I have to grant that much kudos to them.
I meant Falcon-9 Heavy should enable lunar exploration using dual launch and rendezvous.
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