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The New Space Race

There's a piece over at the WaPo today by Marc Kaufman that lays out pretty well the problems that we face in civil space policy, though I think that the international competition aspects are overstated. The pace of all these other activities remains almost as glacial as our own, and until someone develops a transportation breakthrough (and by that I mean a high-flight-rate reusable system, not warp drive or space elevators) none of it presents a serious threat to us. But it points out that the policy apparatus, as I always says, doesn't view space as very important. The beginning of the article, and first two pages, are all about budget constraints, and I was wondering if he would ever get around to mentioning ITAR. Toward the end of the piece, finally, he did. In terms of our losing our dominance in commercial space, this is the number one reasons. It's really been a disaster, and a bi-partisan one.

It's a little out of date, since it mentions that Mike Griffin claims that additional funding could accelerate Constellation by two years, to 2013, because Griffin's own program manager now says that it probably wouldn't.

I disagree with Mike Griffin's comment here:

"We spent many tens of billions of dollars during the Apollo era to purchase a commanding lead in space over all nations on Earth," said NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin, who said his agency's budget is down by 20 percent in inflation-adjusted terms since 1992.

"We've been living off the fruit of that purchase for 40 years and have not . . . chosen to invest at a level that would preserve that commanding lead."

We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on human spaceflight over the past four decades, more than enough to have developed a robust transportation and in-space infrastructure that would have kept us well in the lead. The problem was not how much was spent, but in how it was spent. Jobs were more important than progress. That sadly remains the case today.


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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on July 9, 2008 10:05 AM.

And People Say That Things Aren't Improving was the previous entry in this blog.

Hope is the next entry in this blog.

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