The Future That Never Was

Ed Driscoll has what looks like an interesting post on the space colonization movement, but unfortunately, I don’t seem to be able to link to it. The URL looks fine, but it redirects back to Is it just me? Can anyone else see it?

[Update a while later]

OK, just got a new URL from Ed, that works. I haven’t actually read the whole thing yet, because I couldn’t see the second page, but I may have more commentary after I do.

15 thoughts on “The Future That Never Was”

  1. There is a common misconception that the space program started winding down with the Nixon administration and the early 1970’s. The fact is that the high water mark for space spending was FY-1966 with huge cuts in FY-1967, 68, and 69, before Nixon ever got into office. At the same time other social spending exploded. LBJ used the excuse of deficit control to James Webb, who knew better and quit. This is the true untold story of the Apollo era that Ed at least touches upon in his article.

      1. Trent

        Do you have any evidence that this entered into the congressional deliberations for the FY-67 budget? I have been digging in my spare time and have found no evidence of this at all. What I have found is a major interest in democrat interest groups, supported by LBJ, to shift funding to social programs. If you look just at the budget for “job training” you will find that its ramp up during the FY 66-70 time frame was double the money saved from the NASA budget.

        1. I see the Treaty and the budget cuts as a result of the same motivation, not as one causing the other. The purpose of the treaty, as expressed by Thompson himself (although he was just repeating Kohler), was to avoid “a new arms race in space” because neither the US nor the Soviet Union felt they could afford it. Priorities were shifting away from missiles and space.

          1. There is a dramatic difference between an arms race in space and peaceful exploration. MacNamara took care of the proliferation thing with his MADD doctrine and the evisceration of military manned space program.

            Again, there is nothing in the congressional record that would indicate that you are saying. I am interested as this is a pivotal point in our history. Everything that I have seen so far correlates to what LBJ started talking about by 1966 that the same process that we put together to put man on the Moon could be harnessed for his Great Society programs.

          2. Prior to the treaty there was no talk of “peaceful exploration”. That terminology was invented for the treaty.

            Everything that I have seen so far correlates to what LBJ started talking about by 1966 that the same process that we put together to put man on the Moon could be harnessed for his Great Society programs.

            What makes you think I’m disagreeing? I’m simply saying that the treaty was the culmination of the space race. They stopped racing, at least three years before Apollo 11, and yet the history books say the space race ended with Neil and Buzz walking on the Moon. Ya know, the same history books that blame Nixon for cancelling the Saturn V.

          3. Trent

            I disagree. The entire reason to create NASA by the Eisenhower administration was to separate human exploration from the military applications. In the now unclassifed 1958 Horizon report by Von Braun it was assumed that it would be the Army that put a base on the Moon. Two years later it was all NASA and the peaceful uses of outer space.

            The reason that space was defunded was ironically because it was successful. It was pretty much assumed that the Saturn V and the rest was going to get us to the Moon to win the race and LBJ and the congress were wanting to take the management approach (top down state directed technocracy) and apply it to our social problems. This is the entire origin of the statement “If we can put a man on the Moon then surely we can do x, y, or z”.

            The article that Rand refers to here talks about this in an indirect way in that the articles of faith that democrats started with in 1960 were pretty much shattered by 1968. What the article is incomplete on is that new articles of faith were adopted. The new articles of faith were that by applying the power of the state and money that we could solve our social problems. The second is the environmental movement whereby it is democrats that save the planet. These two memes have underpinned the democratic party since that era.

  2. O’Neill did not appreciate Leary’s involvement in what O’Neill saw as his bailiwick.

    1960: Optimism. 1970: Pessimism. 1980: Reality. 1990: Fantasy. 2000: Hangover. 2010: Schizophrenia. 2020: We enter the universe.

    1. I talked to Leary several times in the year or two before he died. Thought that space and the Internet was what he had been looking for with acid. He just looked like an old wino.

      1. Drugs’ll do that. I was more focused on “O’Neill saw as his bailiwick.” O’Neill was getting a bit of fame at the time which for most people would make their motivations less than pure. It seems to me that very few people are actually motivated by the betterment of humankind. Most are much more selfish than that. (I’ve been reading about the The Homestead Act of 1862 which took the civil war to be enacted because of the selfish desire for slaves in the south and wage slaves in the north. This seems pure evil to me since so many people and the country stood to benefit.)

        1. Working to live your own life on your own terms is the most noble of motivations. Similarly, a man who works to feed his own family is more noble than a man who works to feed the starving poor. Set your sights on “the betterment of humankind” and the best you can hope to become is Elon Musk advocating a carbon tax while leaving the nanny to raise his five kids.

          1. Ok Ayn, …er… I mean Trent, the northern industrialists and southern plantationists were certainly being noble then (/sarc) in preventing homesteaders… but what about the homesteaders (and the benefits they brought out nation?)

            Sometimes noble means seeing above personal ambitions (while not neglecting your family.)

  3. Recently on Facebook I noted some of the futuristic predictions in the 1966 Jerry Lewis movie Way, Way Out, which was set in 1989:

    – Manned three-stage liquid-fuel rockets still in service – nope
    – Weather stations on the moon – nope
    – Smokin’ hot babes on the moon – nope
    – Instant vodka – nope
    – Soviet Union still a going concern – not for long

  4. “Still, while not making a big deal out of it, McCray makes it clear that even if a visioneer wanted to be fully entrepreneurial-libertarian, reality seemed to demonstrate that they needed big government and big business involved if they wanted to turn science fiction into reality. ”

    This sort of like we needed government stimulus program to save the economy. Nonsense.

    If you to make mega projects that no one needs, then naturally one would need a government which can waste enormous amounts of it’s citizens wealth.
    BUT we don’t need a government to make mega projects in which there is a need for them.
    Problem is people imagine we need mega project which are not needed
    to somehow “help”. Such as lower launch costs or something. And it doesn’t help if if one could convince citizens there money should be spent on it.

    What is needed is for the government go in right direction and stop interfering with private sector efforts. And then when mega project are actually wanted, they will be done.

    Will they be done with government financing- probably but due to fact government can’t be restrained, not because it is needed.
    Politicians want step in and take credit [after any “heavy lifting” is done].
    So we don’t need government involvement, but we can’t get away from government involvement, so we just need to get government focused
    doing *something* and/or *anything* which is a complete waste of time.

    SLS is example of a complete waste of time.
    Doing something about fuel depots would more useful.
    Doing neither would fine, as long as NASA was doing some more exploration. It just that for money wasted on SLS, to date, we could
    spent it doing manned lunar mission. If NASA’s purpose was actually
    exploration rather mostly being a job’s program.

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