Private Funding for Space Exploration? Katherine Mangu-Ward Debates Bill Nye on CNBC


Reason Managing Editor Katherine Mangu-Ward debates Bill Nye "the Science Guy" about public versus private funding for space exploration on CNBC's Street Signs. Air Date: August 6, 2012.

About 5 minutes.

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  1. Nothing wrong with commercial space exploration, but I don’t really see the demand necessary to sustain it right now. For science, which I think should be made a priority by governments–that’s rarely commercial, even on Earth. Maybe some of the research conducted in space will contribute to the creation of new industries. Just like on Earth.

    1. There is plenty of scientific research done in the private sector, both now and historically. There is no evidence that large government investment in RD is necessary to technologically advance

    2. Our debt is above 100% GDP which lowers GDP by 1 to 2% per year.

      That is from 150 billion to 300 billion each year.

      NASA needs to be defunded and eliminated.

    3. Re: Tony,

      Maybe some of the research conducted in space will contribute to the creation of new industries.

      Yes, like the lobbying industry. Lotsa opportunities there, kid!

    4. I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

      Microgravity allows for the manufacture of crystaline structures impossible in the presence of a strong gravitational field, this has strong implications for computer chips, communications equiptment, and a host of other commercial fields.

      The demand from these companies to put up a lab for now and then in a few years a manufacturing facility has only been held in check by the significant cost legacy orbital launch systems have posed (greater than $10000 per kg to Low Earth Orbit), with the new generation of privately funded launch options having already lowered that cost by more than 65% and being on pace to cut it by another half to under $2000 per kg in the next decade things that were not possible even 5 years ago become possible.

      Another place that can pay for it believe it or not is Holywood. Assuming that Bigelow and SpaceX/ATK are successful in getting their private space station into orbit in the next 5 years current costing plans would allow you to put a crew of 7 into orbit for 30 days for a cost of around $150 million. I can imagine there are more than a few directors who would love the ability to shoot significant portions of a big budget sci fi movie (James Cameron) in microgravity that wouldn’t really blink at that kind of price tag.

      1. How does that cost compare to merely renting the Vomit Comit for a month?

        I’d really like to see economical Solar Powersats in my lifetime, as it would imply a lot of other goodies. (gigantic orbiting mirrors, asteroid control, the microgravity/hard vacuum manufacturing you mentioned)

        Habitats would be interesting too. Would longevity be increased in a zero gee field?

      2. I’d like to see Karl Pilkington on the International Space Station.

  2. The only way to make the Curiosity mission less interesting is if they had landed Skrillex on Mars.

  3. Nye makes the comparison that Columbus, Magellan, Drake, etc. – the explorers of old – were all funded by governments. This is true, but those governments were all monarchies with shitloads of poor people, correct? They did the funding because they were ridiculously wealthy and no one else had money to spare for that stuff.

    1. Columbus and Magellan relied on monarchs as they alone controled the wealth. Drake was not an explorer, he was just avoiding the Spanish. Lewis and Clark led a corporation founded by Congress when only Congress could found corporations.

  4. How much did government invest to put the Native Americans in America for Columbus to discover?

    1. Lots and lots. Took a long time too.

  5. What I do not get about what Nye said is when he says we are on Mars exploring for the sake of exploring, exactly what part of exploring to see what can be found would the private sector not be willing to do?

    1. What doesn’t make a decent quarterly return.

  6. To put it simply

    Bill Nye is a religious nut. A fascist, religious nut. What a servile True Believer.

    And Ms. Mangu-Ward is an idiot to debate religion with fruitcakes.

    1. Re: wef,

      And Ms. Mangu-Ward is an idiot to debate religion with fruitcakes.

      “Speak not in the ears of fools: because they will despise the instruction of thy speech” Proverbs 23:9.

  7. I didn’t understand the main point of Nye’s comments regarding the discovery of minerals, and by extension, of the big-eared host’s questions to Katherine.

    So what if a rover finds seemingly “valuable” minerals? Valuable for whom? Nye and his socialist brethren at CNBC have NO clue of economics (real economics, not the make-believe crap that the “95%” of Tony’s economists believe.) Just because there are minerals in Mars does not make them valuable. Value is subjective, it depends on the eye of the beholder, and if the beholder is millions of miles away, then it is more likely than not the potential commodity will never be one.

    Besides this, the idea that NASA invented those products shown behind Katherine is preposterous. NASA didn’t invent cordless tools. A guy at Black Decker patented the first cordless tools back in 1961. Many times, sociopaths – I’m sorry, politicians – repeat the meme that NASA invented Velcro. It was invented and patented by a Swiss in the 1950’s.

    1. What are you talking about? We can just Fedex the minerals back from Mars. It’s like $15 a pound for overnight delivery!

  8. Mars could be covered with iPhones and it still wouldn’t make sense to mine it.

    1. Yeah anything other then terraforming or a secret abandoned alien base filled with fabulous technologies makes it worthless.

  9. Bill Nye seems to be making the “but we’ve always done it this way” argument.

  10. I don’t see this paying off or a justifiable expense. This is the ninth multi-billion dollar mission to explore mars and I doubt we will learn enough to justify the costs. As for the Jet Propulsion lab those people would have good engineering jobs where ever they lived and would develop more useful things in private industry. The costs are not just $7 per American, but also the things that have not been invented which would have made our lives better.

    1. Its not even the $7 per american cost.

      Its just that there are several hundred other people also saying ‘its only $7 an american’

      It adds up quick.

      1. Except that not every American will pay their $7.

        Considering that only about 1/2 of us pay income taxes which support NASA, the LEAST that any of us are paying is ~$14 per person, and some of us are likely paying much more than that.

        This $7 a person shit is disingenuous.

        1. My point was that it is the broken window fallacy to say this is good because it employs people and creates jobs.

  11. how much did it cost for NASA to hire as a commentator? Compare this, with SpaceX, which pulled three engineers off the design floor.

  12. Sometimes you jsut gotta go hit it up man!

  13. What was the total cost of this martian rover project? $50 billion? The government should utilize something like the X-Prize model and promise to pay $10 B to the first company to land a rover on Mars. Everybody would win.

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