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« Even More Aldridge Thoughts | Main | Another Regulatory Milestone »

A Mainstream Columnist Gets It

Jeff Jacoby says that space should be given over to the private sector.

...if human beings are truly meant to slip the surly bonds of Earth, as the poem "High Flight" says -- if we are destined to live on the moon, walk on Mars, explore the solar system -- we will need to draw on greater reserves of imagination and creativity than government bureaucracies can manage. Solid rocket boosters can get human beings off a launch pad, but getting them permanently into space will require something even mightier: the unmatched power of competition, incentive, and free enterprise.
Posted by Rand Simberg at June 17, 2004 02:24 PM
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Commercial Space, The Draft, And More
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Comments

We need to turn space into a black market organized crime activity. That way, it will prosper and contribute to the overall economy, without propping up the corrupt government bureaucracies, except through bribes, etc.

Posted by Joseph at June 17, 2004 03:11 PM

We need to turn space into a black market organized crime activity. That way, it will prosper and contribute to the overall economy, without propping up the corrupt government bureaucracies, except through bribes, etc.

I wouldn't count on that. Corrupt government bureaucracies are a great way to syphon government funds and organized crime historically has had a great deal of power to create corrupt bureaucracies (eg, through labor union votes, etc).

Posted by Karl Hallowell at June 17, 2004 04:05 PM

We need to turn space into a black market organized crime activity. That way, it will prosper and contribute to the overall economy, without propping up the corrupt government bureaucracies, except through bribes, etc.

I wouldn't count on that. Corrupt government bureaucracies are a great way to syphon government funds and organized crime historically has had a great deal of power to create corrupt bureaucracies (eg, through labor union votes, etc).

Posted by Karl Hallowell at June 17, 2004 04:51 PM

It's always nice to see a columnist seek out Rick Tumlinson's views instead of John Pike's.

Posted by B.Brewer at June 17, 2004 09:37 PM

However, a mainstream columnist with the BBC *doesn't* get it. Missed that very important 'suborbital' part.

"World's first private shuttle prepares to go into orbit"
http://news.bbc.co.uk/media/video/40287000/rm/_40287801_space13_willis_vi.ram

Posted by John Kavanagh at June 18, 2004 09:57 AM

And in other news, Mojave is now a space port!!
Launch Site Operator License # LSO 04 009 (17 June 2004)

Posted by Aleta at June 18, 2004 12:12 PM

And how do you stop other states from buying
commercial space services to put radioactive waste in space? Or better yet, ICBM's.

Don't forget there was a scandal on Arab states buying satelite pictures of Israel from US companies when satelite photos were first commericialized....

Posted by Researcher at June 18, 2004 02:04 PM

"Researcher":

A) Space launch is technically a poor way to deal with nuclear waste, and is terribly expensive.

B) Even if someone were to approach a commercial launch services company for that purpose, the company's AST license will forbid launch of highly hazardous payloads.

C) Commercial high resolution imaging satellites already exist and are no big deal.

Nice try, troll. Throw up another clay pigeon and I'll shoot it down, too.

Posted by Doug Jones at June 18, 2004 02:31 PM

That's not a troll. It's fargin' Matt Drudge, internet Luddite.

Posted by Simon Jester at June 18, 2004 05:03 PM

"And how do you stop other states from buying
commercial space services to put radioactive waste in space? Or better yet, ICBM's."

And how do you stop other states from buying commercial boat services to put radioactive waste in New York harbor? Or better yet, ships? I guess we must prohibit international shipping.

"Don't forget there was a scandal on Arab states buying satelite pictures of Israel from US companies when satelite photos were first commericialized...."

After the Russians and French were already selling their satellite photos. Is it your position that only Non-U.S. companies should be allowed to commercialize space?

Dan DeLong

Posted by Dan DeLong at June 18, 2004 07:37 PM

For some components of nuclear waste, like a certain krypton isotope and one of the long-lived iodine isotopes, space launch or transmutation are the only sure ways of keeping them out of the biosphere.

Space disposal of nuclear waste is currently very expensive, but we're not imagining the cost is going to stay high forever.

Posted by Paul Dietz at June 18, 2004 07:48 PM

When space flight is affordable and useful for more people, then I'll be happy for it to have a huge private industry. In the meantime, it's just a matter of giving taxpayer dollars to private companies, who have been shown to overcharge the government and get up to all sorts of f*ckery when not under governmental oversight. (Enron? Halliburton?)

And as for bureaucrats lacking creativity, check out this:
http://www.larc.nasa.gov/news_and_events/inside_pages/publications_aero.htm
and this:
http://www.grc.nasa.gov/Doc/projects.htm
and this:
http://www.arc.nasa.gov/aboutames-amesnews.cfm
and this:
http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/
for starters.

Not that there aren't tons of bureacrats who aren't creative. In fact, I bet there are a lot of people in every kind of organizational settings who aren't creative. But remember, NASA employs tons of scientists, inventors, etc. Some of them are bureacrats, some are contractors. They don't all just sit around doing nothing.

In fact, NASA does a lot of publicly important research that is not 100% tied to space. Now, you may well argue that it's not what NASA should be doing (though it's in the mission statement), but I think that someone keeping track of ozone layer depletion, fires, etc. is useful to many people. Privatizing public goods rarely works well.

Posted by SP at June 21, 2004 10:33 PM


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