Vladimir Putin and Neil deGrasse Tyson Agree on Something: Everybody Panic!

vladmir putinWikimediaToday is the 52nd anniversary of the first human spaceflight. The lucky zero-gravity Russki, Yuri Gagarin, is honored every year with Yuri's Night festivities around the globe. (These generally involve a lot of nerds drinking novelty cocktails called things like Vostok Fuel or the Keppler 22b.)

Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is celebrating Cosmonautics Day—as it is known in Russia—in style this year, with an announcement of $52 billion in new space spending. (No word on what he will be drinking, but, you know, vodka probably.)

Focusing on the completion of the Vostochny cosmodrome, Putin highlighted the fact that the additional funds will mean that Russia will no longer do manned launches from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, from which Gagarin made his historic flight. 

He touted the economic benefits of the space spending to the area surrounding the cosmodrome in the far eastern part of the country:

Putin announced that the town being built around the new cosmodrome to house its engineers and families would be called Tsiolkovsky, in honour of the Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky who pioneered rocket design in the early Soviet era.

neil degrasse tysonWikimediaThere are plenty of folks who want to see the U.S government follow suit, upping spending on space, including superawesome astrophysicist guy (and inventor of the Keppler 22b cocktail) Neil deGrasse Tyson:

The problem is that many people operate on the assumption that NASA should go to Congress every year with hat in hand and justify it every year. Well, I see it as the greatest economic driver that there ever was. Economic drivers don't need justification.

The president's 2014 budget allocated $17.7 billion for NASA, not a big change from the baseline. Which means the debate about the potential stimulative effects of space spending will rage on in the U.S.

But would another space race actually be a good thing for the economies of Russia and the U.S.? Instead of two rival powers spending billions on duplicative launch facilities and secret programs, imagine if they could just pay for (at least some of) those services from private companies and get the same results for a fraction of the price. That leaves more money for other projects (including, perhaps, deep space exploration) while creating real robust private industries.

Oh look! We don't have to imagine that! We are already contracting out some space services and many more private space companies will start selling passenger tickets and space delivery very soon. Let's skip the space race. Maybe Tyson and Putin can just start taking space vacations together instead.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Please, God, no. The private sector is heading the right way. That's the only way we're going to have a permanent, sustainable presence in space. LEO is for losers.

  • ||

    The problem is that many people operate on the assumption that NASA should go to Congress every year with hat in hand and justify it every year. Well, I see it as the greatest economic driver that there ever was. Economic drivers don't need justification.

    War is an economic driver according to Keynesian economic thought, guess Dr. Tyson won't object to the next full scale global war.

    That, and why should NASA get everything it wants for space exploration? Building an undersea research facility, a Sealab, if you will would also have the same economic and scientific benefit.

  • Brett L||

    I has a sad that I am missing the Yuri's night party in Tallahassee after hosting one two years ago and trying to convince a bar owner acquaintance for 2 years, they are finally taking me up on it. Of course, they didn't tell me until wednesday, by which time I had planned a family beach outing for the gf, myself and both sets of parents. Bitches better continue my tradition of having a toast in Russian.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I think we should start a new tradition for Neil Armstrong, who was the first human to set foot on another world.

    I suggest that on July 20, every year, each participant should erect a mailbox--an exact duplicate of the one sloppy wrongfully attacked--with an Apollo 11 sticker on the side.

  • Brett L||

    You know that we're going to end up getting drunk and hitting said mailbox with a baseball bat, right? (Although, seriously, do that re-enactment on foot, we don't want anyone thinking we're encouraging drunkenly driving around and hitting mailboxes with baseball bats.)

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's fine, as a new mailbox will need to be erected a year later.

  • ||

    Or we go to Sloopy's farm and, I dunno, prank him by stuffing his mail box full of artisanal mayo.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's also a new tradition.

  • Restoras||

    I'm going to stuff his mailbox with an empty 12-pack of Busch and one M-80.

  • T||

    Quietly, though. Sloop Y Inca, as all good libertarians do, owns guns.

  • Pro Libertate||

    His wife won't let him shoot dogs, let alone humans. Enjoy your prank. And escalate it a little each year.

  • ||

    Banjos is a hormonal mess, so I wouldn't be surprised if she were the one doing the shooting if we caught her on a bad day.

    We must proceed with caution.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, well, appease the woman, and you will be safe.

  • Brett L||

    I found a primate-waterfowl reenactment of sloopy's duck challenges.

  • General Butt Naked||

    I'm gonna sneak into his house and rename his kid "McCunt Shultz Travolta Spicer McCunt III"

  • Almanian!||

    This idea is merely BRILLIANT.

    Ima go buy 11 mailboxes - for Neil's mission number.

    And one baseball bat.

  • ||

    Bitches better continue my tradition of having a toast in Russian.

    Good luck, Mr. Gorsky.

  • John Thacker||

    Well, I see it as the greatest economic driver that there ever was. Economic drivers don't need justification.

    That's just stupid. Calling it an "economic driver" is justifying it. He's just saying he doesn't think it needs to be proven or supported with evidence, that his faith in its efficacy is enough.

    Why should we be giving money to this religious nutso?

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Came here to say just that. An "economic driver" has to be defined and proven as such before it can be called that. And besides, there are plenty of economic drivers in the past that we saw fit to suspend for non-economic reasons (the institution of slavery, for instance).

    How did this man become a physicist?

  • ||

    Because he studied physics instead of economics?

    Kind of wild, isn't it.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Thanks, Mike. You're my beacon of hope in this bleak world.

  • Irish||

    It's almost like, now stay with me here, being very well educated in one area doesn't actually give you any knowledge of other areas.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    OK, lemme rephrase:

    How did this man pass a class (any class) on logic? I assume you have to take a proofs course to be a physicist at his level.

  • ||

    As the top space advocate of our age, he extends that notion into getting more attention and money for all things space -- be it his planetarium or be it NASA.

    He doesn't use logic because he is trying to convince people who don't use logic to be enthusiastic enough about space to get the government to put more money into it.

    I don't like hearing him spout economic illiteracy. But I'm not going to damn him for something that 95% of everyone else does as well.

  • John Thacker||

    Very Straussian of you. Of course, this is how people in politics on all sides comfort themselves with their deceptions.

  • ||

    Yes, I realize I just pushed an amazing double standard.

    I will damn up and down someone spouting economic illiteracy on immigration, free trade, green tech, or farm subsidies. But I cut Tyson a little slack because I like space, he's very fun to listen to, and he soft pedals the government involvement that is inherent in the entirety of those other examples.

    Don't make it right, though!

  • Scarcity||

    I'm no physicist but I do have a BS in physics. I did not have to take a logic class, although it's hard to see how you can get through all the advanced math without a relatively firm grasp of logic.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    You don't have to take a mathematical proofs class to get a physics major?

    Didn't know that, thanks for the info.

  • John Thacker||

    Most schools assume that you'll pick it up somewhere along the way in the required math classes. Formal logic classes tend to be in philosophy departments, in my experience, and then offered against as a high level elective mathematics class but not absolutely required even for mathematics majors.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Huh. I have a BA in Math and it's tough to find a math program that doesn't require at least a proofs class relevant to proving things in math -- or at least it was when I was going to school.

  • John Thacker||

    I'm speaking from my familiarity with the Duke and Cornell Mathematics Departments. Neither requires a class specifically in proofs for the mathematics major; in fact, neither offers a class in proofs that is appropriate for an introductory (pre-calculus) audience (though both offer mathematical logic classes that include the discussion of proof theory.)

  • John Thacker||

    Both assume that the basis of proofs will be taught within the normal algebra and analysis sequences.

  • Zeb||

    You also can't use mathematical proofs to prove or disprove that NASA is an economic driver. In any social science, such as economics, you may use logic, but you use that logic on assumptions. You can be a perfect logician, but the truth of your conclusions rests on the validity of your assumptions.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Sure, but the basics of statement logic and provable/disprovable statements is still part of math proofs.

  • Scarcity||

    Sorry I wasn't clear. Yes, I had to take a formal proofs class, but not a logic class.

  • ||

    I recall hearing on an interview that he first became interested in astrophysics when he was 10 years old and got out of New York and into the countryside where he could see a sky full of stars. He thought to himself, "I wonder whether money spent on NASA helps or hurts the economy I wonder what more there is to learn about stars."

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    And as we all know, whatever mental state you were in as a 10-year old boy is all you need to do physics at a doctoral level.

    Seriously, how does one take a proofs class and not understand the problems with Tyson's statement?

  • Pro Libertate||

    I like him okay, but I hope he stays a little further away from politics.

    Science is awesome. Politics is awful.

  • Tony||

    But every libertarian is an economics expert.

  • Jon Lester||

    Two things:

    Putin quit drinking years ago (something he and GWB had in common).

    And there would be no "race," per se. I see us contracting with Roscosmos for many years to come, and I don't think there's anything not to like about that.

  • Tim||

    Tywin Lannister, er Vladimir Putin is welcome to spend all the government money he wants on legacy space tech. US corporations are going to make it all obsolete before the cement hardens.

  • Atanarjuat||

    Right, and the corporations will be their best bet for recouping their loss*. SpaceX might rent a launchpad from them, if they're lucky. Or that Virgin thing, if it ever flies, could use a runway to launch European space tourists self-paying astronauts.

    *Not that anyone ever gives a fuck about taxpayers' losses.

  • GILMORE||

    "He touted the economic benefits of the space spending"

    Which is why this year America should commit to finally achieving the dream of all humanity = blowing up the moon

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Csj7vMKy4EI

  • prolefeed||

    Well, I see it as the greatest economic driver that there ever was. Economic drivers don't need justification.

    WTF does "economic driver" even mean? Some government program that is so obviously awesome that every dollar "invested" in it outperforms any other conceivable use of that money that the people it was stolen from might invest it in, including a private party doing what the government program is meant to do?

    By that definition, "economic drivers" don't need "justification" for the same reason rainbow-farting unicorns don't need justification because they don't FN exist.

  • Dweebston||

    I'll give Tyson this: as far as statist apologists go, I would prefer backing his tax-sucking pet project over, say, another foreign excursion for our armed forces.

  • ||

    The problem is that many people operate on the assumption that NASA should go to Congress every year with hat in hand and justify it every year. Well, I see it as the greatest economic driver that there ever was. Economic drivers don't need justification.

    Neil deGrasse Tyson can go fuck himself for two reasons. First because he is a statist pile of shit and second because he is forcing me to defend the the defined powers of congress which is also a statist pile of shit.

  • ||

    Also:

    Economic drivers don't need justification.

    Good so this means that Tyson agrees that all taxes should be eliminated and no justification is needed.

  • Dweebston||

    Let's skip the space race. Maybe Tyson and Putin can just start taking space vacations together instead.

    Space-cation. Ohmygod someone get me the trademark office.

  • John||

    Putin announced that the town being built around the new cosmodrome

    What? Is Putin carrying out some kind of captive breeding program for cosmotarians? Is a cosmodrome some kind of a zoo?

  • Dweebston||

    Two float in: one floats out.

    Oh, wait, drome. Like, cosmodromedary?

  • WomSom||

    Lets roll with it big dog!

    www.AnonNow.tk

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement