Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Day The Music Died, Or When America Turned From Leadership In Space Exploration

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Birthplace of Independent Conservatism
Liberty -vs- Tyranny

While checking in at the Left Coast Rebel, a site I am a contributor to, I caught a fabulous post by Proof Positive on our unfortunate decision to back away from space exploration.

The post is one that conservatives and liberals ought to be able to agree on.
I wasn't planning on writing about this today, but the fading glory of our space program moves me to write. In 1977, Jerry Pournelle wrote about the "2007 expedition to Ceres". The old Buck Rogers TV show spoke of the "last of NASA's deep space probes in 1987". The last?? when was the first???

Robert Heinlein spoke of the expectation that many of us had growing up of the inevitability of space travel. In 1949, he wrote in the preface to "The Man Who Sold the Moon":

Read the rest here and here.

Indeed it is a sad development. The United States of America abandoning a key leadership position in space exploration.


  1. Les

    Wouldn't this be something that is better left to private industry?

    NASA, like any other government agency, has no incentive to control costs or turn a profit where private entrepreneurs do.

    Space exploration is just more malinvestment on the part of the government.

  2. Chris - Perhaps you are right. And from a Randian perspective you8 certainly are.

    However, as a businessman {manufacturing}I see the possible pitfalls as I am sure you do as well.

    When space exploration is subject to "competition", as it would be in an open space market if you will, there is a distinct possibility of a lack of direction and a unified cohesive vision to insure the profit objectives are met.

    The most enduring legacy of President John F. Kennedy was his challenge to the nation to put a man on the by the end of the decade.

    The direct result of this was success in 1969, a moment in time I watch in awe at the ag of 17. Where it not for Kennedy's vision and challenge this would not have happened.

    There are things my friend that rise above the "profit motive." NASA is a true success story and no amount of conservative hyperbole will change that.

  3. And Chris, you are hearing this from a Rand advocate, and a believer in limited government.

    Check out Rand's position on the USA space program, you might be surprised at your findings. I was.

  4. Basically, we can't afford it. Most unfortunate. I was in HS when the Soviets launched Sputnik. Part of the 'math and science' generation. It was exciting, in my case it provided a satisfactory living (explosives/detonics/initiators, private sector) and attracted many bright and dedicated folk. The tech spinoffs are even greater than
    believed. We were 'exceptional' then. We paid
    high taxes because we believed in ourselves.
    Now...well, guess who has the launch vechicles?

  5. Les

    I look at it purely from the free market view that whatever government can do, the private sector can do better.

    Government programs suck the life out of innovation, hoard the best talent and because of limitless budgets over do everything.

    Look at computer technology. It gets better and cheaper every year. You can say the same for the automotive industry as well. New technologies appear all the time because of the incentive to make money.

    Besides, we don't need a coherent vision, we need entrepreneurs that will think outside the box and build a better mousetrap.

    And like BB said, we can't afford it.

    I think that NASA has outlive it's usefulness and there are better alternatives.

  6. We shall see, we shall see. I hope you are right.

    We can't afford the foreign welfare either. There is a trade off isn't there?

  7. There's so much that we can't afford that is pure waste: all of the NPR/etc funding (tax dollars propping up official government news organs is not only a waste, it is repugnant and fascistic), the SCHIP money that gives free healthcare to rich adults, all of the Congressional pensions (with their high salaries, they can afford to invest their own retirement money) and the list goes on and on...

    Wastes that are counter productive at worst, or at best just money down a rathole that does no one any good. I'd rather spend this type of money on the space program.

  8. BB said: "We paid
    high taxes because we believed in ourselves."

    Now, we pay higher taxes than ever before. I guess we really really believe in ourselves now?

  9. RE: 'we pay higher taxes than ever before'
    ..seems that way, but consider the figures,
    I graduated college 1963-
    Federal income min was 20%, max was 91% and
    revenues were 18% of GDP
    We landed on the moon in 1969
    income tax was 14%-77% and revs were 19% of GDP
    income tax is 10%-35% and revs are 14% of GDP
    I agree the money is well spent, and we need consider that the bulk of NASA money goes to the
    private sector

  10. This is a tough one. While a lot of good R and D has no doubt materialized because of NASA, the hugeness of our present fiscal situation leads me to think that maybe Chris W is on to something here. I mean, think about it. When we have somebody like Richard Branson out there trying to make an enterprise out of it, shouldn't that be the focus of space exploration and not another government venture?


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