Asked by Jeff Greason why we as a society stopped pushing the technologies we needed to be pre-eminent in civil and military space, the former administrator blamed it on “My Generation,” the Baby Boomers. He prefaced the statement with the caveat that he had thought long and hard about it, and didn’t have a good answer, and that it was only his opinion, and that it might be wrong. Obviously many of us are exceptions (and he obviously thinks himself one) but that was the only answer that he could come up with.
In response to a question from Greg Sullivan, he noted that when we feel threatened (e.g., being attacked with IEDs) we throw the acquisition book out the window to solve the problem. Clearly, we don’t currently feel threatened enough to do that with space technology development and acquisition.
[Update a while later]
Jeff’s answer: We don’t want game-changing technologies, because they upset the Russians, and arms-control regimes. They don’t like game changers, because they like and are comfortable with the game. Reagan administration was rare exception. Not surprised that we do not attain that which we do not want.
In commercial market, the market will drive things. If Brilliant Pebbles had gone forward, we’d have much cheaper launch today. If there was a market, we’d have satisfied it by now. If assured market, he could go to the bank and get the money for reusable vehicle.
Demand is key. Airmail-like things would help (already starting this with COTS). Could buy payloads and capability, rather than resources. Isn’t as concerned about tech development for launch vehicles, except things that allow SSTO. But it’s important to learn how to integrate two-stage stage system, and that would be productive area.