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John Marburger, the president's science advisor, apparently gave an interesting speech the other day, which can be somewhat summarized by this statement:

"Exploration by a few is not the grandest achievement," he said. "Occupation by many is grander." (Although he added that by "occupation" he did not necessarily mean settlement but instead "routine access to resources".) His long-term vision for the future is "one in which exploration has long since ceased and our successors reap the benefits of the new territories."

As I noted in comments at Space Politics, this is the most visionary thing that I've ever known a president's science adviser to say, and the other notable thing is that he himself says explicitly (as well as implicitly in the above comment) that space isn't just about science. (As an aside, I've always thought that "Science Adviser" was too restrictive a title for that position--it's always been science and technology.)

As I also noted over there, it's unfortunate that NASA's current plans are so completely unattuned to that vision, being specifically designed for "exploration by a few" (and rarely) rather than "occupation by many." One wonders if he's ever complained to anyone about that.


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Dennis Ray Wingo wrote:

Marburger has been absolutely brilliant on this point and Mike Griffin could not be more wrong. He thinks that building a rocket is his job when it is establishing an outpost of humanity on the Moon that is the real thing.

You know that I have written multiple times on the Marburger speech two years ago and I feel another article coming on now.

Jim Harris wrote:

One wonders if he's ever complained to anyone about that.

Has has no one to complain to. Marburger will go down in history as the most marginalized science advisor ever. The White House views of his job as more public relations than anything else, and even that has been a dismal mandate. He has had to explain a lot of statements and policies that look really bad: stem cells, intelligent design, global warming, the hydrogen economy, or in this case the unsustainable VSE. He thinks of good things to say, but so what, he's just whistling in the wind.

His "interesting" speech is here, by the way.

narciso wrote:

Ah, Jim, always the Lysenkoist on these matters. stem cells from cord blood, even skin cells, have proven to be the cutting edge, not embryonic stem cells, global warming has been proven to be premised on bath mathematical calculations. the conventional wisdom on how to generate a hydrogen base economy; are almost as flawed as that of ethanol utilization. The obtaining and refining of H3 would be one of the key elements to such an endeavor; and what better source of it but the moon. Marburger, is right, a fancier version of Columbus or Magellan's craft would be useless without a destination, from which to replenish fuel and supplies. The shuttle,' the eight track
tape' of space travel, ended up being that dead end

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on March 8, 2008 2:04 PM.

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