Friday, January 09, 2004

The Administration wants to go back to the Moon. That's good. Apparently, however, the Administration, in doing so, will at least temporarily eliminate our manned space flight capability, end investment in the space station, keep the project controlled completely in-house through NASA, and use an Apollo Plus methadology in doing so. That strikes me as very, very bad.

Consider the difficulties in getting federal appropriations for such an increased effort, in light of the ongoing problems funding the space station, and the consistent lowering of the NASA budget. Why would we cut off our nose to spite our face by leaving the space station out in the cold, when it could be a Moon/Mars staging point. Also, the current NASA ethic strikes me as incompatible with the spirit of exploration ncessary for this concept, which is literally the "Wagon Train to the Stars" idea. Furthermore, to make such a massive effort workable, it seems to me that business and industry, i.e., the private players, have to have an incentive to invest in the effort; there's just not enough government money available, and the national mindset may not be as supportive of a Moon shot now as it was 40 years ago (race to space, beat the Russians, and so forth). Many decades ago, Robert Heinlein wrote about "The Man Who Sold the Moon." If manned space exploration is to succeed on any kind of reasonable basis, we must sell it as a society to our society, and not as another insular government agency raison d'etre.

Is this initiative the Administration's way to get NASA's juices flowing again? If so, it's like going to England to get to California: taking the wrong direction.

(Thanks to Instapundit and Rand Simberg)

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