Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

When the president, in a rare fit of fiscal sanity, proposed cutting back on NASA, the subsidized sector of the high tech industry — the military-industrial complex — felt a shiver.

The first, I hope, of many.

NASA has long had a special, high-toned place in that hierarchy of government-funded industries. It’s the civilian wing of the military’s industrial juggernaut. As if to prove that government can accomplish things, NASA actually landed men on the moon. And it kept an ungainly shuttle program going long after its rightful expiration date.

But it’s time for private enterprise to take over in the space industry.

High time.

Still, questions remain — at least in the public mind. As a fascinating MSNBC article put it, “Can private companies build and operate space vehicles safe enough to carry astronauts?” The article’s author, James Oberg, focuses on the emerging market of space taxis, but does ponder the possibility of putting real astronauts out in space, privately. He consulted skeptical NASA engineers, who wondered how unsubsidized, for-profit businesses could mimic NASA’s record.

Where’s their collective experience?

Answer: Let most of NASA go, and that experience would be up for hire.

Our hopes for the future conquest of space depend, in part, on ceasing to subsidize it. Congress and the president should embrace that future, and realize that it is time to relinquish their control over another whole industry.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


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  2. Don Pritchard says:

    We know that the voyages of Columbus to the New World were subsidized by a government. I am wondering how long it was before private ventures took over and governments stepped out of the exploration business in the New World. How was that transition achieved. It may give us an idea how the future transition to privatizing space flight can be accomplished. Any thoughts?

  3. Drik says:

    Why on earth would he commit to save NASA? Its not like there are large numbers of unions involved.

  4. Howard Bernbaum says:

    NASA is a typical bureaucracy and neither plans nor performs as well as private industry. However, even private industry is hard to judge as the government has its footprints all over it. As for putting NASA personnel in the private sector and utilizing their talens, whoa! You’re talking about the guys who have lost 40% of their fleet due to human error. You are talkignabout an organization that put up the ISS and gave no consideration to the long term injection and retrieval of personnel. Shuttle is 30 years old. There are aircraft flying over 80 years old, some commercially. There is no automatic dictate that an aircraft needs to be retired on its 30th or 40 th birthday. That depends on maintenance and somewhat on original design. PJ is talking in an arena where he has little knowledge.

  5. Mary Bodily says:

    NASA was terminated in our area a number of years ago. (Silicon Vally, Mtn View CA) I still miss the days when we could take children to the wind tunnel and look at the planes and old space
    related stuff and have the children dream of becoming an astronaut. I taught space science in those days. The space program has been the father of many many inventions that we so take for granted today. I is a program of dreamers who want to know more of what is out there in the great beyond. The photos of the sun that were recently taken from space is part of this program is a way. Is NASA obsolete? Maybe, financially, but I hope the dream goes on.

  6. John S. Eden, DVM says:

    This program has paid back more than any government program I can think of except maybe the WW2 GI bill. I think overall the case could be made that it has benefited the economy well beyond it’s cost. The entire cost of the space program is a minor blip in the budget and any cutback is symbolic rather than being a serious attempt at containing the cost of government. It’s just another feelgood, ineffectual bit of stage play by the administration.

  7. mike from tucson says:

    Few mathematicians doubt that the Earth is the only planet among billions that has sentient life. The odds are just too great in favor of green-skinned blobs. Other systems could surely be more advanced in space travel and weapons, and may well be as vicious to ‘other world natives’ they run across as were the rapacious European invaders to the Americas. Science fiction has espoused this premise for many years. Many notable readers seem to agree. Steven Hawking among them.

  8. Gil says:

    I disagree – the information gained from space probes is enormous. Private enterprises think they’re going good when they’re trying to get their vehicles into a low orbit. NASA, on the other hand, has sent probes all around the solar system. Maybe plonking men on the Moon may be wasteful after the first time but the space probes are invaluable. I hate to think the data sent from the New Horizons probe passing Pluto is lost because Conservative-Libertarians shut down the receiving stations as “being a waste taxpayers’ money” and “who cares about outer space when we have problems at home such as terrorism”.

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