Space

To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Since 1972

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Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) is pushing a horribly named and poorly conceived bill aimed at securing more funding for NASA, a federal agency whose greatest public relations coup may have been the Phil Spector episode of I Dream Of Jeannie.

Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., has introduced H.R. 1641, the "Reasserting American Leadership in Space Act" or the "REAL Space Act". In the vernacular it is being called the "Back to the Moon Bill."…

The key wording of the legislation is a directive to NASA to plan to return to the moon. "The National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall plan to return to the moon by 2022 and develop a sustained human presence on the moon in order to promote exploration, commerce, science and United States preeminence in space as a stepping stone for the future exploration of Mars and other destinations. The budget requests and expenditures of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall be consistent with achieving this goal."

More here.

Unsurprisingly, the bill's sponsors all have a constituent base related to NASA ventures. A separate version is wending its way through the Senate, though given President Obama's canceling of the Constellation boondoggle (a rare dollar that the prez declined to borrow), it seems unlikely that successful votes in Congress would lead to Americans on the moon in just a decade.

Or strike that, publicly funded Americans on the moon or elsewhere in outer space. The private space biz seems to be doing just fine, though it's troubling to see how NASA is subsidizing some of it.

Just to get the week started, here's a recent blast from ideological gas giant Michael Lind at Salon, which combines anti-Rand and anti-Heinlein invective, the conflation of government activity with legitimate areas of human flourishing, and an apocalyptic vision of Islamic terrorists dive-bombing from way, way, way up there:

If there is no compelling argument for government-sponsored human spaceflight, there is no convincing rationale for private commercial spaceflight, either. The Robert Heinlein wing of science-fiction fandom has always combined Tea Party-style anti-statism with a love of big rockets. Now that the dead hand of the NASA bureaucracy is out of the way, will visionary billionaires inspired by Ayn Rand inaugurate a new age of commercial space travel for the masses?

Don't count on it. There might be a niche market for a few space-planes or rockets to take bored plutocrats into orbit for a joy ride. But investors would be wiser to invest in private bathyscaphes offering tours of the Mariana Trench. After 9/11, can anyone believe that the world's governments are going to foster a regime of laissez-faire toward private space shuttles that could be hijacked for suicide missions from orbit, or that might disintegrate over several time zones?

More here.

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  1. These people must have obvioulsy forgot how dangerous it was up there, for example 6 hidden dangers of space travel:
    http://www.cracked.com/article…..ravel.html

    But there’s also this little issue that the universe can pretty much destroy as on a whim as seen here:

    http://www.cracked.com/article…..rning.html

    Enjoy the sense of feeling unimportant!

      1. hahaah great link!

  2. “After 9/11, can anyone believe that the world’s governments are going to foster a regime of laissez-faire toward private space shuttles that could be hijacked for suicide missions from orbit, or that might disintegrate over several time zones?”

    So the private sector will fail because becasue big government will kill it. So, therefore the sollution is to embrace big government. That is just deeply twisted.

    1. Also deeply twisted is “if the government shouldn’t do it, then the private sector definitely shouldn’t do it.”

    2. So the private sector will fail because becasue big government will kill it. So, therefore the sollution is to embrace big government. That is just deeply twisted.

      The reasoning is sound. You wouldn’t believe how many times, “But officer, that prostitute I murdered was going to just die eventually anyhow!” has gotten me out of hot water.

  3. Perhaps we should call it the for REALS act instead…

    1. When Keeping It REAL Goes Wrong.

  4. After 9/11, can anyone believe that the world’s governments are going to foster a regime of laissez-faire toward private space shuttles that could be hijacked for suicide missions from orbit, or that might disintegrate over several time zones?

    How can anyone be this fucking stupid?

    Let me get this straight:

    Terrorists are going to go to the time and trouble to GET UP INTO ORBIT so they can…blow up a bus station or something.

    Yeah. OK.

    Hey, maybe next the terrorists will build an interstellar drive, and fly to Centauri and back, so that they can blow up a Denny’s when they return.

    That would certainly have a great ROI on their energy investment.

    1. And of course terrorists would never blow up a government funded rocket. Not like blowing up a space shuttle or a Soyuz capsule wouldn’t make a hell of a political splash or anything. That sentence is just one hell of a pile of stupid.

    2. That’s assuming the hijacked private space shuttle would even survive re-entry. You would need to train someone to a very high level of skill to even accomplish that aspect and it’s much, much easier to just find some dumb fanatic willing to strap on a semtex vest.

      1. Right, exactly.

        To safely re-enter the atmosphere, you have to bleed off speed to the point where your space shuttle is the momentum equivalent of…a small plane.

        “Yay, Ali! Yay, Muhammad! You managed to steal an orbital vehicle, which we will now…crash into something as if it was a small plane we could steal at any local airport!”

    3. How can anyone be this fucking stupid?

      That’s a rhetorical question, yes?

  5. The only reason to plan a return trip to the moon is to find a lost pair of sunglasses-fuck, I hate losing them

  6. Let’s hope this Lind guy doesn’t read The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, he’ll be convinced libertarians are going to turn into space terrorists if they get the chance.

  7. Also, the comments on the Salon article are wonderful.

    “Basically Space Nuttery is a rich white man’s preoccupation with endless growth, endless resources, endless exploitation, which is what is required to sustain our insane lifestyle.

    Somehow I don’t see a poor black woman being terribly impressed or fanatical about space travel.”

    So manned space travel is not only unfeasible, it’s also racist, classist and… anti-environmentalist?

    1. That has to be a brilliant spoof, designed solely to see how many lefty imbeciles go along with it in support.

    2. And sexist! Forgot sexist.

    3. a rich white man’s preoccupation with endless growth, endless resources, endless exploitation

      What’s even funnier is that the tone of outrage here strongly implies that this person would be upset with endless growth and endless resources even if those two goals were actually achieved.

      1. That is funny. Basically the comment says that rich white men shouldn’t be preoccupied with accomplishing the things that could make life massively better for everyone in the world.

  8. Sadly, I think he has a point that governments probably will kill the industry. Although I’m glad to hear about SpaceX’s Mars plan. Perhaps they’ll be ramping up in a couple of years…

  9. Basically Space Nuttery is a rich white man’s preoccupation with endless growth, endless resources, endless exploitation, which is what is required to sustain our insane lifestyle.

    Yep, and when we leave your asses behind like we did crossing the Atlantic to get here, enjoy having no host organisms.

  10. …rockets to take bored plutocrats into orbit for a joy ride…

    Former Senator John Glenn’s 1998 shuttle mission was essential in advancing our understanding of the effects of weightlessness on senior citizens!

  11. private space shuttles that could be hijacked for suicide missions from orbit

    I haven’t heard that one before. Points for originality at least.

    Is that an argument for statism or against space flight in general?

  12. Just so long as the government stays out of the private sector’s way–doing no more than acting as a consumer–then things will likely turn out just lovely. The problem is, that if the government decides to keep the NASA jobs program going, it might also decide that private sector competition is a bad idea. . .and take steps to hinder its progress.

    1. Given that the largest consumer of the “private sector” services is the government, I don’t think that will be a problem.

      I’m having a hard time seeing how SpaceX et al are substantially any different from other government contractors, like Lockheed Martin. In either case, without government patronage, neither one of them has a business.

      1. There are a number of differences, but the big one is that SpaceX isn’t designing and building rockets to NASA’s specifications and isn’t having to use politically important subcontractors or do any other nonsense required of the imbedded government contractors.

        The SpaceX model will allow them to provide unmanned and, later, manned flight to orbit and beyond for what appears to be a game-changing reduction in cost.

        I’d prefer that they had a more diverse client base right now, but at least the government has taken the position, more or less, that companies like SpaceX are a good thing and should be encouraged. A number of companies and countries are lining up to purchase SpaceX services, so the contrast between it and the major aerospace contractors will be soon more evident. With any luck, the majors will jump into the low-cost access race, too.

  13. H.R. 1641, the “Reasserting American Leadership in Space Act” or the “REAL Space Act

    Slightly off-topic, but it’s 100% guaranteed proposed legislation will suck if either:

    1. They have a corny acronym in the title

    2. They are named after a previous crime victim

  14. Don’t count on it. There might be a niche market for a few space-planes or rockets to take bored plutocrats into orbit for a joy ride.

    Says the douche who probably emailed their story via an air-port, while chatting on a cell phone and following GPS directions.

  15. Were the 70’s just cool like that or what. Wow.

    http://www.how-to-be-anon.at.tc

  16. if the government decides to keep the NASA jobs program going, it might also decide that private sector competition is a bad idea. . .and take steps to hinder its progress.

    I, for one, won’t bother to act surprised.

  17. The story of the OTRAG rocket is probably relevant to a discussion of government acting to kill its competitors. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OTRAG

    As for the value of space exploration, I think you can easily make the case that it’s been worth it economically (geosync communications, space imagery), and still think the Space Shuttle program, and NASA in general, has been a titanic waste of money.

  18. I’m pretty sure Dr. Smith was into pederasty. Just remember how many times he touched Will Robinson lovingly on the shoulder and called him “my dear boy.”

  19. Just nitpicking here, but out of curiosity I looked up the Constitutional Authority Statement that is required for each bill in the House as of this year.

    Rep Posey sites Art 1, Sec 8, Clause 7 as the authority for the bill. That’s the postal clause (To establish post offices and post roads)

    I’m sure it was a typo or something, but found it funny.

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