Space

Live From Washington, DC: The Space Shuttle Era is Over (Thank God); Let the Private Space Race Begin!

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So the space shuttle Discovery has flown its last mission; it's been towed over the nation's capital like a bruised Chevy after a demolition derby before being deposited at the Udvar-Hazy air and space musuem in northern Virginia.

Other space junkers—Atlantis and Endeavour—are being retired like Brett Faver in a pair of Crocs, too, bringing to end an underwhelming three decades of fruitless and tragic exploration of low-earth orbiting patterns.

Let's face it: Once we beat the Russians to the moon, the national rocket grew limper than Liberace at a speculum convention. NASA has been dining out on a single 1969 hit longer than Zager and Evans.

The good news is that amateur hour is now over and the private space race has begun. Where two Cold War superpowers failed, let a thousand business plans bloom!

The future of space is in the hands of the guys behind Amazon, PayPal, and Virgin. The force of competition will create endless possibilities and unimaginable technologies. No more talking about how the space program brought us Tang and Tempur-Pedic mattresses. We're going to Mars, baby, in business class.

Virgin's Richard Branson has already signed up more stars than there are in heaven and his regular press releases read like the headlines at TMZ: Ashton Kutcher, Katy Perry, and Angelina Jolie have all reserved space on the first civilian flights to the great beyond.

The International Space Station will continue as a government run intergalactic DMV, but at least the spaceships shlepping materials and mouthbreathers to and from it will soon be operated by private vendors—at an expected 90 percent discount. That should put plenty more celebrities—and civiliams—in the mood to join the 30-mile-high club.

The founder of BudgetSuites, Robert Bigelow, has already launched experimental modules and is dreaming of putting affordable hotels – complete with bedspreads soaked in alien DNA—in orbit and PayPal's Elon Musk has said he wants to die on Mars. Preferably in a colony established by SpaceX, his company that's hell bent not just on leaving Earth but getting to the Red Planet in style.

Nobody knows exactly how private space exploration and entrepreneurship will play out. But's its a lock that the next 30 years won't resemble our government-run space program's decades-long failure to launch anything more inspiring than Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space.

Space out!

About 2:30 minutes.

Filmed by Joshua Swain and Jim Epstein. Edited by Meredith Bragg. Written by Nick Gillespie and Kennedy, who also hosts.

NEXT: Your Government: Committed to Keeping the Drug Market As Dangerous As Possible

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  1. Let’s face it: Once we beat the Russians to the moon, the national rocket grew limper than Liberace at a speculum convention.

    I uhh, one of you three is reaching here…

    1. Calm down, Hitler. You think Ron Howard just wished Willow was great? No; and yet it was.

      1. Ron Howard used to work for Roger Corman.

        In a meeting for some movie that Ron was directing for Roger Corman, Ron had asked Corman for more extras or some such thing, which Roger Corman denied him.

        Seeing that Howard was visibly upset, Roger Corman said to Ron Howard, “Ron, if you do a good job for me on this picture, you’ll never have to work for me again.”

        1. Roger Corman was responsible for a movie that has a young William Shatner as a racist rabble-rouser. And it’s actually pretty good, too.

      2. IS that you at the piano?

  2. Despite working adjacent to IAD, I only saw one pass of the shuttle today, because, well, I had to work. I look forward to seeing it at Udvar-Hazy soon with my kids. Enterprise has always seemed too pristine to be real, because it basically isn’t.

    1. We all stood outside our office building at the appropriate time, and the thing literally flew right overhead on its final approach. I think it’ll be cool to see once the crowds die down.

  3. I’m down in Foggy Bottom, so it basically circled around there for about 20 minutes.

    It’s a boondoggle, but it was still cool to see.

    1. So you’re one of the Foggy Bottom Boys?

      1. Better foggy than soggy, I always say.

  4. Virgin’s Richard Branson has already signed up more stars than there are in heaven and his regular press releases read like the headlines at TMZ: Ashton Kutcher, Katy Perry, and Angelina Jolie have all reserved space on the first civilian flights to the great beyond.

    Just what we need – more space junk!

    1. I dunno, all that mediocrity in one convenient place…(cue Micheal Bay)

      1. Think of the win-win with one way tickets!

      2. Also includes Victoria Principle. Not a mediocrity. A great porn actress in her time.

        1. Principal

          1. Are you sure you aren’t thinking of Victoria Paris? Principal was a non-porn actress and was on Dallas.

  5. What you miss is that Amazon, Virgin and the rest would be nowhere without the government’s program. It simply wasn’t commercially feasible to do it until the gov’t made it possible.

    1. Just like nuclear power.

      1. Sarcasm or lack of awareness? You decide!

        1. Just basic troll retardation.

          One chromosome too many.

          1. Or to few but enough about Santorum’s family.

            1. Do you have any evidence that private companies would have done the research and development for nuclear power, or are all these content-free posts fueled by pure libertarian delusion?

              1. None-just the opposite. They wouldn’t have carried out the development of nuclear power without government largess/effort because nuclear power is extremely uneconomical. Do research before posting idiotic statist snark.

                1. You just claimed that the State is the only actor that can/will ever build nuclear power plants. Who’s the statist again?

                  Speaking of research, here is a private company who produces nuclear reactors:
                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Atomics

                  1. And I’m sure they are massively subsidized.

                    1. I guess you’re not going to do research before posting idiotic anti-state snark, eh?

                    2. I see that you’re ignorant of all the subsidies the nuclear industry receives are accusing others of ignorance. You really are every statist in one.

                  2. “nuclear power is extremely uneconomical.”

                    Had government overregulation and misregulation not hampered development for the last sixty years, nuclear power might not be uneconomical. Nuclear power is the most regulated industry in America. No wonder it costs so much, and innovation is so hard to put in practice.

                  3. Private companies built the shuttles, too – with government funds issued through government contracts.

              2. The Derider|4.17.12 @ 7:54PM|#
                “Do you have any evidence that private companies would have done the research and development for nuclear power,…”

                Do you have any evidence that the money wasn’t poorly spent on nuclear power?

          2. I see it has a hat and a job.

            1. No one knew.

              1. I doubt it brings home the bacon, though.

                1. But never it forgets you’re a man.

        2. Whereas your reply is both.

          1. Um. What? DERPRIDER STRIKES (OUT) AGAIN.

            1. Your reply both contains sarcasm and lacks awareness.

              1. Nope. Neither.

              2. The Derider|4.17.12 @ 7:56PM|#
                “Your reply both contains sarcasm and lacks awareness.
                Derider, you’ve been shown to be an ignorant dipshit.
                Either make and back claims that support you supposed points, or put a sock in it.

    2. Actually we’d already be years ahead in space if not for the dead hand of the idiots who thought that the ISS and shuttles were good investments. Oh Oh don’t tell me your next one I already know it: Al Gore and the government invented the internet right?

      1. Why? What stopped private companies from launching their own spacecraft?

        Answer: It wasn’t profitable. And it still wouldn’t be if governments hadn’t born the massive expense of doing the foundational research.

        1. It wasn’t profitable because government kept soaking up all the people and capital and tech required for it.

          1. People: If private companies offered engineers more money than NASA did, the engineers wouldn’t work for NASA.
            Capital: You’re not stupid enough to believe that NASA somehow used up all the capital in the world.
            Tech: Government created the tech, and now private companies are using it to launch spacecraft. There was no spaceflight tech before government created it.

            Get a clue.

            1. If private companies offered engineers more money than NASA did, the engineers wouldn’t work for NASA.

              Geez maybe it’s a bad thing when the government overpays these people and hires all the ones interested in space?

              If the government had kept its nose out of it, the private sector would have supplied the tech deployed in a far more rational manner. Just like car AND EVERYTHING FUCKING ELSE.

              1. 1) NASA engineers weren’t overpaid.
                2) There were plenty of engineers with the skills to build spacecraft who never worked for NASA
                3) You have no evidence that private companies would have created a market for spaceflight, or that they would have been better at it than government. You’ve only got your unwavering faith in Ayn Rand’s torpedo tits.

                1. You have no evidence that private companies would have created a market for spaceflight, or that they would have been better at it than government.

                  They’re doing that RIGHT FUCKING NOW, now that government is out of the way. Costs less and everything. Government could’ve contracted to the private sector but they were stupid assholes. Apparently having access to a bottomless bucket of tax dollars and encouragement from enraptured idiots (hint hint) can make up for beaurocratic failures at least for several decades.

        2. “What stopped private companies from launching their own spacecraft?”

          Crowding out.

          The Anasari X-Prize really got the ball rolling by giving people something to strive for. Note also that it, indeed, costs a lot of money (though nothing approaching NASA levels of boondogglery) to launch rockets, so its millionaires and billionaires leading the charge against uninspired minds (such as yours, perhaps).

          As for foundational research, there were plenty of rocketry associations across America and Europe before governments it up–for military purposes. There’s no reason (just as in nuclear power) that private groups wouldn’t have done the research, had the government not already been doing it.

        3. “What stopped private companies from launching their own spacecraft?”

          You mean like DirectTV, Iridium, and Orbcomm?

          1. And XM and Sirius and Comsat and Intelsat.

        4. Why? What stopped private companies from launching their own spacecraft?

          You do realize that until relatively recently it was illegal to launch your own spacecraft? Until 1984 it was against FAA regulations to launch your own spacecraft on US soil. You should probably know this if you are going to walk around claiming that spaceflight is impossible without daddy gov’t.

      2. You left out SkyLab.

        1. As an Australian: thanks to NASA for that one. Although some dude made $10k out of it.

  6. “…bringing to end an underwhelming three decades of fruitless and tragic exploration of low-earth orbiting patterns”

    That’s some seriously stupid shit right there.

    The Hubble was launched by the space shuttle and serviced 4 times. Over 9,000 papers based on Hubble data have been published in peer-reviewed journals. We wouldn’t know nearly as much about the expansion and age of the universe, black holes or extrasolar planets without it.

    Do research before posting idiotic libertarian snark.

    1. That was a tiny fraction of the many stupid, stupid missions run. The private sector still would have done it better for less.

      1. “Would have” does not equal “could have”

        The fact is, they didn’t.

        1. Yeah. That’s what happens when the dead hand of government chokes out the private sector.

          Step 1) kill free market Step 2) parade corpse around claiming the free market has failed Step 3) Believe your own bullshit.

          1. There was no “private sector” spaceflight when governments started launching rockets out of the atmosphere. Government created this market. You’ve got this precisely backwards.

            1. See above.

              1. YOU CANT KILL THE MARKET IF THE MARKET DOESN’T EXIST, YOU MORON

                1. Oh right just prevent it form existing. My point still stand Captain Derpshit.

    2. Hubble could have been launched on a Saturn IB, and serviced by astronauts riding in Gemini or Apollo capsules. If Skylab had been maintained–and it wouldn’t have been that hard, had NASA’s resources not be tied up developing a Shuttle that came closest to living up to its expectations in the Russian Roulette game before Challenger–,Hubble could have been placed there, or in a nearby orbit, allowing for regular service.

      Wet Workshop space stations would have been far superior to the ISS.

      1. Also, one of the service visits was just to fix the massive fuckup they made to the lens.

        And if it hadn’t been reduced in size to fit in the shuttle, the original specs were a much more powerful telescope.

  7. I flew on Space Shuttle America a few times. The asteroid and the dinosaurs were crazy as hell.

  8. Needz more references to Marcus Welby, Beverly Hillbillies and Hee Haw.

  9. Needz more references to Marcus Welby, Beverly Hillbillies and Hee Haw.

  10. Why is this even news? This is something I’d expect to see in the back pages of National Geographic a couple months from now. Are there droves of space cadets out there that I’ve somehow remained unaware of?

    1. There are plenty of NASA fanboys (and a few fangirls) who were largely unaware of private spaceflight developments until relatively recently. Those sorts of people would make great investors in private spaceflight companies, but had all their interest locked into NASA.

  11. “The good news is that amateur hour is now over and the private space race has begun. Where two Cold War superpowers failed, let a thousand business plans bloom!”

    Optimistic, but not likely. In fact, should the marxist tyrant in chief get his way, no degree of freedom will exist in any market.

    http://www.thecre.com/zoning-news/?p=5440

    1. This “free market” of which you speak – it intrigues me, and I would be interested in subscribing to its newsletter.

      If either existed, anywhere, any more….

  12. Unfortunately former Gov Richardson got the NM citizens to help pay for Branson’s spaceport with a sales tax.

    1. Not to defend excessive taxation or cronyism, but at least it was a defined tax. The potential for boondoggles notwithstanding.

    2. Gary Johnson wouldn’t have, I suspect.

      Couldn’t Branson have issued bonds, and thrown in a big chunk of his own money? I was rather discomforted by his use of state funds.

  13. Holy shit. Bucky Balls double a rat’s lifespan.

    1. I’d be interested in seeing some primate tests on that.

  14. NASA could have done some real space exploration, but they were too timid where it counts:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Direct

    I can see this happening privately, using a Red Dragon launched on a Falcon Heavy.

    1. Good book.

  15. Ah, space dorkism at Teh Reason!

    If we can get Loder reviewing a movie about comic books, and someone talking about home brewing, the circle of dorkism will be complete….

    1. Screw home brewing. Space brewing is where it’s at.

  16. OT The new commercials with Carl Edwards thrashing the shit out of 2013 Ford Tauruses with engineers as passengers…that just looks like big, dirty fun.

    OT2 – picked up a Honda XR650L the other day. OMG, what a fun bike…

  17. All this private spaceflight talk will go away as soon as a few Hollywood A-listers get killed in an in-flight accident

    1. Riiight, and Christa McAuliffe’s untimely demise totally shitcanned the idea of manned space travel. It should be noted that the liability for a private enterprise is much higher than a government sponsored one. Try suing the government over lost lives WRT to an unfortunate accident. Not so with SpaceX or Virgin. Their liability bar is much higher. Dead tourists == bad publicity, therefore the attention to safety of passengers will be much higher.

      Depending on the A-lister, however, this could be parlayed into a bonus.

    2. I was hoping we could keep going past “a few.”

    3. What they should do is require each famous passenger to do an “If I get killed, keep going into space!” video.

  18. I missed you Kennedy!

  19. And no one alive reading this will see a man on Mars

  20. Now you can add Cherokee Indian to the list of races which the MSM considers white (but only when they commit a crime).

    1. If you are on the rolls, meaning 1/16 Native blood or more, yer a Cherokee.

      Didn’t quite work out that way for the Freedmen, though they managed to maintain their claim to tribal rights.

      1. Yah, but this kid is obviously a whole lot more than 1/16th. If he was only 1/16th, I could see calling him white. I’m dating a girl who’s 1/4th right now, and she doesn’t look anywhere near as Amerind as this guy.

        1. Not sure appearance would be a real guide.
          Dominant, regressive, etc.

          1. Granted, but it’s enough of a guide to tell he’s not white. I’ve got a fun little game for you. Google “white hispanic”, but only do a news search. See if you can find any mention of “white hispanic” in the news older than 2 months.

            1. “See if you can find any mention of “white hispanic” in the news older than 2 months.”
              Not surprising. It’d be nice if this were other than predictable.

  21. Now you can add Cherokee Indian to the list of races which the MSM considers white (but only when they commit a crime).

    1. The early reports on the incident on NPR said Jake England was a Cherokee Indian. Can’t say what the rest of the media were saying.

      Indians, especially in Oklahoma have a history of animosity towards blacks. And the Cherokees and Choctaws in Oklahoma were extensive slaveowners and Confederate sympathisers who probably would have gained statehood in the Confederacy had the south prevailed. That history has influenced race relations in Oklahoma to the present day.

      So take you white victimization card and shove it. Sideways.

      1. The early reports on the incident on NPR said Jake England was a Cherokee Indian. Can’t say what the rest of the media were saying.

        If you’d click the link, you could see what the rest of the media was saying. If that doesn’t diminish from your self righteous huff, that is.

        Indians, especially in Oklahoma have a history of animosity towards blacks. And the Cherokees and Choctaws in Oklahoma were extensive slaveowners and Confederate sympathisers who probably would have gained statehood in the Confederacy had the south prevailed. That history has influenced race relations in Oklahoma to the present day.

        Hey, you’re right. I guess that makes them white. Oh, wait, it doesn’t? And I love how pointing out facts means I’m playing the white victimization card. Do you even know what that means? You play a race card to win an argument when you’ve got nothing else. You know, kinda like you just did with your second paragraph.

        1. According to your link, the arresting officer’s original impression that the guy was white are what the MSM was reporting. Given what else there is, what else did they have in the way of information. Note that as soon as information beyond the arresting officers report became available news reports were revised.

          Even the most generous interpretation of cops’ very fallible reporting skills recognizes that they are just that, fallible and human. The arresting officer saw a light skinned dude with no particular tribal markings.

          Oh, and the rest of you Hit and Runners raise your hands if you think that cops are pat of the “left wing media conspiracy”.

          1. Like I said, take your white victimization to a blog like VDare.

        2. Again. the media told them what the cops told them.

          And we all know that the cops are part of the “left wing media conspiracy”.

          1. Irrelevant you say! I once shot an elephant in my pajamas. What it was doing in my pajamas, I’ll never know.

            1. Hey, you finally decided to argue the actual issue. Congratulations.

              According to your link, the arresting officer’s original impression that the guy was white are what the MSM was reporting. Given what else there is, what else did they have in the way of information.

              But you’re still wrong. The inaccurate reporting by police they are referring to was from his arrest in 2011 for a misdemeanor (he also got his height and weight off by 3 inches and 30 pounds, respectively). And they also had both his facebook, and the fucking photo.

              So his accurate race was already listed in his criminal record, and on his facebook page before this incident. You know, stuff a reporter should really check. You said that NPR got it right, so it couldn’t have been too difficult.

              1. (fucking character limit)

                For fuck’s sake, they were on his facebook to get that quote they keep showing. You know goddam well they saw him referring to his “Indian heritage” as well.

                Note that as soon as information beyond the arresting officers report became available news reports were revised.

                There was no new information. People were calling bullshit from day one, based solely on the picture. It was only when the criticism reached a critical mass that the news sites corrected the story, because it was making them look bad.

                So, since you’re having so much trouble reading the article, you wanna make up some more strawmen about cops and a “left wing media conspiracy”? Or maybe you should just play the race card again? Cause that worked so well before. Oh, wait. Nevermind. I see you already did.

                I eagerly await your multiple incoherent posts in response.

  22. Ridley Scott’s “Legend” just came on.
    I need a yea or a nay

    1. Yea. Mia Sara in vampy Goth is quite nice.

      1. It’s going on the PVR then

    2. Meh. I enjoyed it. Not going to go to the top of your favorite movies list, but it’s okay.

      Agree w/GM on Mia Sara.

  23. I haven’t heard so many references since Dennis Miller introduced Deng Xiaoping to Zbigniew Brzezinski at the after-party for Johnny Rotten’s debut performance as Sky Masterson in Mel Gibson’s Off-Broadway production of Guys and Dolls.

      1. ????^

        Related to this, Mika Brezinski is still the Ralph Wiggum of MSNBC. The woman is a dunce; just her voice puts me in a bad mood.

  24. More from the War on Cops.

    Yet again, it’s one cop shooting another. This has got to be an appreciable percentage of cops who get shot by now.

  25. Uh, tried to post a link to the GSA kerfuffle, but it was “invalid”.
    WIH mean?

    1. From the CSM:

      Decoder Wire
      GSA scandal: Does agency have culture of waste, fraud, and abuse?

      Critics of the huge federal bureaucracy have a history of missteps to cite, from well before the latest GSA scandal, in which Jeffrey Neeley authorized $823,000 for a conference in Las Vegas

      Linky

    2. Who is in charge of the Reason Censorship Department?

      I haven’t had it happen yet, but I don’t post a lot of links. Has anyone sent an actual complaint? I can’t believe, if we all bitch, they won’t fix it.

    3. Apparently if you use html links as opposed to cuttin’ & pastin’ you don’t get the invalid message.

      Note to Invalids: LEARN FUCKING HTML ALREADY

      jesus fuck guys. This ain’t rocket science.

      1. Even better. Use Reasonable, FFS.

        1. I don’t use Chrome. I didn’t care for incif either.

  26. So are they gonna do a victory lap around DC every time they retire an expensive, pointless, boondoggle?

    Because I would fly out to Washington to see Gil Kerlikowske strapped to the top of a plane.

  27. If you’re going to drive your Motorcycle 299KPH, don’t post it online.

  28. Jeez, I think it’s possible to be a supporter of the private space industry without pooping all over NASA’s achievements.

    1. Good point. Without NASA we would never know the effects of weightlessness on tiny screws.

    2. Also, it’s possible to be a supporter of the legitimate concrete industry without pooping all over Fat Tony Salerno’s achievements. Capisce?

  29. Who is this Brett Faver?

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