Three commentaries over at the New York Times, from John Derbyshire, John Logsdon, and Seth Shostak. Common theme: it’s about exploration and science, not development. So, as usual, it’s orthogonal to the issues actually facing us.
[Update late morning]
From the beginnings of modern science in the late 17th century, all the major European nations offered state support to societies and academies of pure research. Such support must submit to public audit, however. In a time of cratering public finances, the stupendous costs of manned spaceflight — half a billion dollars per shuttle launch — cannot be justified.
Ah. So he doesn’t believe that it’s intrinsically a function in which the government shouldn’t be involved. He just thinks it costs too much. He’s like the woman in the bar, who has established what she is, and is merely haggling over the price.
So, if we could put people into space for half a million per flight, would that be acceptable? If not, what cost would be?
The nice thing about the new policy is that, for the first time in almost forty years, or at least the first time since we decided to do Apollo on Geritol and gave up on the goal, we are not only setting a goal of reducing launch costs, but actually proposing sensible policies with which to meet it. As I noted at Pop Mechanics, Ares was going to vastly increase launch costs over Shuttle. That always was, and remains, the biggest reason to oppose it.