Terry Savage, a long-time space activist (and friend of three decades) is running to renew his term on the National Space Society board of directors. Here is his campaign statement, at his blog.
I link it because I find a strange cognitive dissonance within it:
Like any entity, NSS has limited resources, and the rules of “opportunity cost” apply. Any resources we invest in one activity, are not available for other activities. From my personal perspective, there is only one mission for the society that really matters: minimizing the time from this moment to the creation of thriving human communities in space. Space settlement. Space industrialization is essential to that result, as are many other supporting activities, but at the end of the day, space settlement is the bottom line. All activities should be tested against how well they support that core objective.
The problem isn’t primarily technological. Humanity is capable, right now, of creating self-sustaining human settlements in space. We simply choose not to do so.
On this note, I’ll say explicitly that the Obama proposal for NASA is a barely mitigated disaster. It has some good elements, like the emphasis on private sector development, but it has no clear focus of ANY KIND for the American manned space program. As a practical matter, Obama is proposing to kill the American manned space program. I think that’s wrong for the country, and I don’t like it.
There is a contrast between grafs one and three. Graf one is great — it matches up with the Space Frontier Foundation’s “Frontier Enabling Test,” (which, ironically, is not part of the NSS, but rather, part of the Space Frontier Foundation, which arose from the ashes of the L-5 Society/NSI merger, after the L-5ers realized that they’d been absorbed into the NASA-lobbying borg).
But the new policy meets that test much better than the previous one. There was little or no hope that Constellation would have opened up the frontier, even if fully funded. This is something that NSS generally, and Terry specifically, have never really understood. There is no plausible path from NASA’s “NASA uber alles” policy, in which billions are spent to send a few astronauts to a planet for some vague purpose, and space settlement. But NSS continually (despite occasional refreshing support for private activities) supports whatever NASA wants to do.
Well, until now, anyway. Which is doubly surprising and ironic, given that the people who came up with the new policy are former heads of NSS, including the Deputy Administrator, who said just last week:
Defending NASA’s new plans on both charges was deputy administrator Lori Garver. “We plan to transform our relationship with the private sector as part of our nation’s new strategy with the ultimate goal of expanding human presence across the solar system,” she said in a luncheon speech at the conference Thursday. “So don’t be fooled by those who say we have no goal. That is the goal.”
Turning to the private sector to launch both cargo and crews to LEO, she continued, actually lowered the risk to the agency in the long run by keeping it from relying on a single system for human access to orbit. “We will diversify our risk by funding a portfolio of highly-qualified competitors instead of a high-risk approach in which we fund only one system,” she said. “We’re going to see the most exciting space race that NASA’s seen in a long time, and there’s likely to be more than one winner.”
Does this sound like a policy to “kill the American manned space program”?
If so, I think that Terry owes an explanation of why, to NSS members he expects to vote for him, other than a belief in the Apollo Cargo Cult.