Re: So thats it...no more humans in space
no1star welcome to the space.com forums. I actually appreciate your passion in this matter, and so want to answer some of your questions and comments.
This a "scary" moment for U.S. mnned spaceflight because it represents stepping into the unknown. The use of private
entities committed to supporting future manned flights is "scary" not because they can't do it, but because this may
be way for the adminstration to kill the space program entirely. It is possible the government simply underfunds the effort - blames the private contractors for not meeting goals they couldn't have because they never were funded in
the first place. A very clever way to end support for any space program. Don't tell us the money will be there in the coming years - make sure it IS !
All new things are scary, but that doesn’t make them bad. It’s not the administration that is killing the space program. The American people simply don’t care about the space program. If you don’t believe me go to your local grocery store and do a quick survey… See how many people know or care about the space program.
It is also "scary" because it is sending a clear message to the world that America is NOT able to, or willing to support fut-
ure exploration. The country that starts backpedaling enters the "Portugal Spiral". Ask anyone which country was the
world power during Columbus' era and nearly everyone says Spain. It wasn't. Portugal was the "big dog" who dismissed Columbus' plan because they didn't need new routes to the spices. They controlled the existing ones, and why
waste money on this new exploration. Many other space age Columbus's are lurking in the mist, and now they have the
opportunity to pull off another "sputnik" on the U.S. It would be nice if the people who make these decisions will have to
explain why we are watching astronauts from any number of other countries landing on the Moon and setting up colonies there. It will be bad enough that we will have to be buying "rides" for our crews at higher rates than those charged the "civilian space flight participants". Let's just admit we are a "second-level" space flight country. And if we become "second-rate" in the eyes of the world, just think how this influences the actions of our enemies ? I'm sure there were those Romans who thought the barbarians were just an annoyance too.
Its not a message, it’s a fact that most Americans are not able or willing to support space exploration. I would be happy to see any astronauts landing and colonizing the Moon, or Mars. But its not as easy as that. We are not a second rate space country, we have some of the smartest minds in the world and are second to none. But right now there IS no support. There is an old saying you take two steps forward and one step back. We are still making progress on many fronts. Robotics and Sciences are just a few.
America went to the Moon first. Now, we stand a high chance of being the last country to return to the Moon in the second wave of exploration. While we can find money to bail out private companies, we can't apparently find the will
and funding to more forward. This is a time when we need to create new trechnologies, new industries, and well paid jobs.
It seems that everytime a politician running for office comes to the space community and praises them, promising plenty
of future support - it is the kiss of death and they end up cutting space related activities. Politicians don't seem to be aware that once you disperse your team's talent it takes decades to rebuild that quality base again. In a country that already graduates too few engineers and scientists, this will have long term effects because employment opportunities will dry up limiting the employment opportunities for young graduates. The private contractors will be attempting to more with less as the profit margin becomes paramont.
We went to the Moon first for all the wrong reasons. That was a political race and yes we did win it, but as soon as we did most people lost interest. I agree with you about bailing out fat cats on wall street, but we had a chance to fund new technologies and new space industries when this country was flushed with money about 10 years ago and we STILL didn’t. So its not if we have the money or not, its if we have the will or not. Let me also remind you that when we went to the Moon we started from zero, so even if you do disperse your talented team they can get back together very quickly IF there is a will to do so. After all in the 60 we put a team together and got to the Moon in one decade.
NASA has provided far more than just space flight. It has provided quality opportunities for talented people. NASA has fostered talent, new opportunities to experiment with concepts, and created benefits far beyond just space flight. Can
the same be said for bailing out a private bank that was probably mismanaged in the first place ? Instead we should be
spending money on new initatives, creating new well paying positions, and working on things that will improve our future
and that of mankind. Saying that we are switching over to private contractors is nice - on paper. There is no backup if
something happens. The next decade will be interesting just as long as we move forward. I see the contractor's as the
scapegoats for those who want the system to fail because they not only don't support the space efforts, but they are
seeking ways to make it look bad. We will see, but when you look at all the positive results of the NASA stewardship
it is "scary" to see shaky decisions tear down what has been accomplished.
NASA is a spectacular organization with some of the best engineers and scientist in the world. No body disputes that and again I agree with you about the private banks and fat cats on Wall Street, but its not the government that can build these new initiatives, but the private industry. Switching over to private industry isn’t just a paper dream – Have you been to SpaceX site lately? They are real and not just on paper. NASA can still be a steward of the space program, but they can pay private industry to do the job so that the said private industry can create the said new initiatives that will create a business model for space based companies.
Finally I apologize for being so long winded. I am sure there will be those who will attack me - not the message - but the last time I looked we still have some sembelence of Freedom of Speech. If you don't like what I have tried to say
- then just ignore it. I'm not all that talented in trying to get my point across, but I passionately believe that our steps
into space are one of the greatest, most positive moves that mankind has ever made. And to "blow it" will be one of the greatest tragedies in history. Period
Well if you have to apologize for being long winded I will have to be doubly apologetic for this extremely long post (this maybe my longest post yet). I respect your freedom and speech and will die to protect it. But don’t give up just yet. Lets give private industry a chance to shine. I think they will.