The Final Frontier: NASA in the Obamanation

So much progress …

When I hear the word “progress,” the mental image of advanced technology comes to mind, in particular that which relates to space exploration. I think of future generations of White men expanding out into the inner solar system: landing on Mars, colonizing the moon, mining the asteroid belt, etc.

In the Bush years, I was excited by the Mars rovers and the Cassini mission which discovered seas on Titan. Along with the National Park Service, I counted NASA among the handful of things that gave me some lingering sense of pride in America.

So it was a punch in the gut to hear that the Obama administration is literally destroying the U.S. Space Program. NASA’s Constellation Program is being scrapped and the space shuttle retired. The next manned American spaceflight won’t lift off until some vague date in the 2020s. In the meantime, the transportation of American astronauts to the International Space Station will be outsourced to Russia and China. The U.S. will voluntarily relinquish its leadership role in space exploration. Thousands of American workers – the cream of the high technology industry – will lose their jobs in NASA states like Florida, Alabama, and Texas.

But don’t worry: America’s HNIC has promised we will land on Mars sometime in the 2030s – decades after he leaves office – years after any number of ticking timebombs (Medicare, Obamacare, Social Security, uncontrolled Third World immigration) crash the federal budget and tank the U.S. economy. Under the stewardship of affirmative action appointments at NASA, the black and Hispanic scientific geniuses of the future currently graduating from America’s public schools will take us there.

The last scheduled American shuttle launch is May 31, 2010. Mark your calenders. It will probably be the last time Americans travel to space on their own initiative.

A future that will never happen.

About Hunter Wallace 10106 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent

45 Comments

  1. This is all very sad and very true. Man does not live by bread alone. It’s appropriate for a great people to do things simply for the honor and wonder of achievement: sailing around the globe, exploring the stars, literature, poetry, great art. NASA’s budget, while substantial, yielded many times its numbers in national pride and national prestige and knowledge (cosider Hubble alone!). But Obama only cares about stealing from the whites to give to the blacks and browns. The general weakening of our culture, the honor due our civilizational and ethnic allies like Poland and Great Britain, and the willingness to set priorities in the face of an entitlement bomb are totally absent. This is a guy who has much more concern for a white cop in Cambridge than the white dots in the sky that represent other worlds and ultimate destiny of our race.

    I’m reminded of the other disinterest of most blacks in foreign travel. I, and most educated whites, actually know a thing or two of Asia, Africa, the solar system, and things that have no direct relation to me or the narcissistic celebration of oneself and one’s own tribe. I am intellectually curious. I’ve read of other groups and their stories. I know who the Nuristanis, Khemer, Cherokee, Inca, Aztec, Vietnamese, Japanese, Tutsi, Hutu, Biafran, and other people are. If I’m not as well travelled as I would like, at least I know where Indonesia is when I meet someone from there, and I can discuss Rhodesia with the Indian diaspora ex-Rhodesian who runs the dry cleaner I go to. But blacks seldom travel, seldom read about anything other than black self-esteem literature, seem little to know even about Africa, and, as a group, are probably the most ignorant and unimaginitive and least destined for greatness as any other group that has ever lived. And this is as true among their wealthy and educated, as it is the parochial urban poor. And Obama’s utter disinterest in one of our great national achievements exemplifies this concern for immediate gratification and base concerns over all others among them. This is our new national leadership; it truly deserves the name African-American.

  2. I seem to remember reading an article during the presidential election about how hopeful everyone at NASA was about Obama. The article mentioned the usual feelgood crap like “this is a new era” and “you can feel the optimism about the future”.

    Yeah, how has that worked out, guys? Does Obama have any use for NASA other than a tool to crank out Global Warm- oops, I mean uh, “Climate Change” numbers?

    What use does Obama, and those who vote for him, have for space exploration? That’s a white venture that requires genius, hard work, and an intrepid spirit. Space doesn’t mean anything to people whose primary goal in life is to scream racism. How does increasing our knowledge about space and technology steal money from whites? It doesn’t; therefore it must be destroyed.

    Of course America is going to slide into the gutter. I think the crumbling of NASA should be taken as the nadir of the Obama presidency.

  3. Hunter and others,

    You might find this blog interesting: http://www.paleofuture.com/ .

    The White race was ready for the stars only a few decades ago. The optimism of previous generations is astonishing to those of us that live in the modern dysfunctional world. Our admiration for the high-mindedness of previous generations is akin to a monk of the most ignorant years of the dark ages having stumbled across Aristotle or Euclid, in awe that men could be so magnanimous.

    The West once looked collectively upward, but now those same eyes are cast downward, toward unending, unfix-able social problems. The parasites have finally overcome the host.

    Somewhere at this moment there’s a Latina or Negress receiving government largess to feed their unplanned and unwanted babies, and the wealth wasted on the aforesaid creatures is what would have been put toward tomorrow’s rocket fuel or space station. The curved horizons of other worlds have been replaced with the oft-pregnant bellies of fecund non-Whites.

    Multiculturalism has destroyed our bloodlines, our culture, our sovereignty, our dreams, and even our destiny.

  4. This really is sad. As a teenager, it was American science and engineering that awed me, and motivated me in that direction educationally. What will American kids aspire to when reared in a culture that scraps space exploration in favor of postracial adulation? Hopefully, political/geographic distribution of peoples in this country and Western Europe will reflect cultural and ethnic interests before it’s too late. And yes, spending on the order of $100 billion annually to occupy a nation of people who weren’t coming here in large numbers at the time, weren’t harming our communities daily, and were willing to strike a favorable deal with us to prevent war (look it up), points to whose petty interests this greatest strategic blunder in American history really served (to paraphrase William Odom). This country just keeps getting shit on by the elected ones.

  5. Well, after the economic mismanagement of the last several administrations even a decent white administration is going to have to get it’s priorities straight and blowing billions on a flight to the moon just isn’t going to happen regardless. But to completely cut off our access to space is taking it too far. NASA should be funded to develop something on par with the Soyuz or Gemini capsule so we at least can get people up to our space station. While the Shuttle is an over-sized, dangerous, excessively costly system for people to get into orbit, surely we can put together something more modest to at least “save face.” It’s not surprising the magic one pulled the plug on NASA, I was shocked in college by how difficult it was to have an intelligent conversation with non-whites. They had ZERO interest in any of the nerdy topics that were the subject of frequent conversation amongst the suburban whites I grew up with. All they talked about was “college hoops” and the acquisition of status symbols. Unlike a white who goes into the sciences, engineering, etc out of an actual interest in the subject. Minorities who take up the field see it as merely the ticket to a paycheck that will allow them to buy lots of toys. (As an aside I suspect there is only one black man on the planet who has an interest in Astronomy, as he is interviewed on nearly every single cable channel documentary on space.) I notice Buzz Aldrin was the only Astronaut sticking up for the magic one, Armstrong and Cernan were furious about mothballing the Space Program. Coincidentally Aldrin seems very eager to please the media masters to stay in the spotlight, he even did a cameo with the lowlife rapper Calvin Broadus (aka Snoop Dog.) A microcosm of how whites can gradually get more and more caught up in the elite world of vacuous fame and fortune losing touch with their roots.

  6. Obama wants to destroy the White man’s country, and all that is sacred and precious to the White man.

    You know, this guy must have really hated his White mother. What the hell could she have done to him? True, she abandoned him, but so did his Kenyan father! Yet his book is called what? “Dreams of my father”.

    His White grandparents sacrificed and struggled to give him a good upbringing and education in spite of his loser parents, and how does he say thanks? By spitting in the face of the White man’s country, and throwing his White grandparents under the bus when he exploited them during the election to get the votes of clueless YT’s.

    His tutelage under CPUSA operative Frank Marshall Davis evidently did the job….this angry, confused mulatto decided to turn on the one race that actually HELPED him succeed in life.

    His response to White America reminds me of the leftist jews who spit on this country and everything genuine Americans hold dear, even though this country has been the safest haven those same jews and their ancestors have ever known.

    Talk about ingratitude!

  7. As the country fills up with non-whites, the culture will increasingly adopt their short term thinking. The longing for space exploration is very much a white thing, non-whites rarely exhibit the slightest interest whatsoever, some Asians aside. Not only do they lack the questing spirit, but they can’t even appreciate the enormous practical benefits of technology spinoffs. A crass but insightful man that shall go nameless once said something to the effect that, where blacks are concerned, “If they can’t eat it, smoke it, steal it or fu*k it, they ain’t interested.” Sorry, there really is a certain elegance there. But moving along.

    If there is one area of government spending that has paid for itself many, many times over it is the space program. An absolute bargain. So sure, let’s gut it. Certainly we have far better use for our tax dollars than a program that pays for itself multiple times over. After all, there are insane foreign wars to fight, and millions of non-whites to import.

    We have become, in a mere generation or two, a society that cannot solve great problems anymore. Increasingly, and gutting the space program is emblematic of this, we don’t even make the pretense of being able to do so. We no longer bother producing our own engineers or scientists, but import them instead. When there is some half assed attempt at encouraging people here to go into the hard sciences, the approach is invariably ridiculous and futile. Ignore the huge numbers of really bright white youngsters, those that possess the ability and talent to actually master science, and instead target blacks. Bemoan their absence from the hard sciences. LOL! Yeah, that’s the problem we have. Lack of black and hispanic scientists.

    The system tries to turn 85 to 90 IQ blacks and hispanics into scientists, while ignoring the large number of 130 IQ and above white kids that are more than capable of doing the work. But if you are white, why bother? If you are smart enough to do real science, you are probably smart enough to know that the system is just going to import Chang who will work at half price, or simply send the entire research lab over to Asia.

    The Kwa believes in a modern version of alchemy, and enjoys about the same level of success. Namely, none. Once can no more turn a dull black into a scientist than base metals into gold. Actually, the alchemists of old were far more rational than the modern Kwa. Those alchemists may have been engaged in a futile effort, but at least they didn’t ignore the real gold in their society. Can’t say that much for the Kwa.

    A society that behaves so irrationally simply cannot handle the real challenges that are on the way. While what is being done to the space program angers me, it also fuels my optimism. This Kwan system will not last, and the sooner it goes the sooner whites can have a real space program again, and that is something to look forward to.

  8. Hunter,

    I think you’re overlooking the accomplishments of our black brothers in the Old Negro Space Program:

  9. “This Kwan system will not last, and the sooner it goes the sooner whites can have a real space program again, and that is something to look forward to.”

    I would like to believe that but something tells me America’s greatness has vanished forever. We’ve been sliding downhill for more than 40 years now and I can’t recall any example of a nation in history that’s declined and rebounded. Forty percent of our population is nonwhite and growing exponentially, we have the worst educational system in the industrial world, our gene pool is corrupted and we’re neck deep in debt that won’t be paid off this century. It seems to me that there will be more pressing needs in this crumbling country in the future than developing a space program.

  10. The Kwa believes in a modern version of alchemy….

    Now, that is a meme that needs to be spread, at Sailer’s and elsewhere.

  11. The longing for space exploration is very much a white thing

    Intellectual curiosity for its own sake is also very much a white thing, with few parallels in other groups.

  12. It seems to me that there will be more pressing needs in this crumbling country in the future than developing a space program.

    There are only two goals for Whites:

    1. Make sure there’s a successful space program.

    2. Make sure we’re on board when this planet becomes uninhabitable.

    In the mean time, we have to survive, but a space program is absolutely crucial.

  13. I reject our masonic oligarchy’s faustian values and goals. Progress is improvement of the human condition in this world – not prancing around on another one. I can’t help but feel that many secular folks attempt to fill their spiritual void with the transcendence that space exploration promises. It’s incredibly expensive therapy that should really be privately funded.

    It’s a shame to see America’s decline and fall result in one humiliating implosion of one venerated institution after another; But we have absolutely no business in our sorry situation pretending like we have the wealth and health as a nation to be sending people to Mars “just because we can!” May this be among the first in a long string of reality checks for a nation and a people sorely in need of them.

    Disclaimer: I don’t object to publicly funded science and I don’t object to the rationale that aerospace technology provides a national security advantage. I object to redirecting money from scientifically and strategically useful programs to “inspiring” ones. Though, now that I’m thinking about it, we can’t really afford to publicly fund scientific research or remain competitive in aerospace technology. We’re so screwed.

  14. ALERT – ALERT – ARTICLE STUPIDITY LEVELS REACHING CRITICAL

    NASA and governmental organization of space travel matters under one and only one circumstance: if they are using that focused power and organization to actually do something that is useful and that requires such concentration of effort.

    For example, the Orion nuclear pulse rocket. That would be appropriate. Or building Lagrangian colonies where living space would then be auctioned off to homesteaders. Or a space station that isn’t so flimsy bumping it wrong risks shaking the whole thing to pieces.

    But NASA isn’t DOING any of that, and HASN’T been for THIRTY FUCKING YEARS.

    And that is why this entire article is a pile of bullshit.

    NASA runs in circles in low earth orbit, providing joyrides to 50-something military colonels who want to play at being spacemen. Exploration is a young man’s business. Risk is a young man’s business. A serious space program would be putting massive numbers of people up there and capitalizing on their energy and independent thought and rewarding them appropriately. That is not what NASA does and it is not what NASA has ever done, except maybe to a very slight extent in the 60s.

    Save the American space program? THE AMERICAN SPACE PROGRAM IS A ZOMBIE. A rotting dead empty-eye-sockets putrid-breath zombie of a jobs program for military contractors and paper suppliers. God knows they use a lot of paper at NASA. All those wonderful plans! Always being revised! Always new revisions and more expensive ideas! If only people would give them more money. WHAT THE HELL HAVE THEY ACTUALLY MANAGED TO ACCOMPLISH WITH THE MONEY THEY’VE HAD?

    The robot probes are the ONE thing NASA does well. They don’t need an American governmental lift capability; buying space on an Ariane or a Russian rocket works fine, just to get the payload into the right transfer orbit. Heavy lift? That’s for PEOPLE. When exactly has the government of the USA shown any kind of ability to recognize why and how it would be good as a matter of long-term policy to put people into space?

    The ONE chance for an American space program is now in private hands.. It might be better if it were not. I think I would prefer to live in a world where Kennedy had not cancelled the Orion project, and manned American spacecraft were orbiting Titan by 1970. But that’s not the situation we have. The US government and NASA have repeatedly shown that the ONLY influence they are going to have on space travel is to choke it, and to crowd anyone else who’s interested right out of the field. Whether private industry can do what is needed or not remains to be seen, but it is very clear that NASA can NOT.

    Thirty god damned years of low earth orbit. They should all be hanged as traitors to humanity.

    Therefore finally blowing out the brains of this repulsive useless zombie excuse for a vision of the future is the best possible news that could have come out of this. I have no doubt that such is not Obama’s intent, but that doesn’t matter: he’s doing the right thing, and allowed the first real ray of hope I have seen in years.

  15. I should add that the decision to retire the space shuttle is 1) a decision that is long long overdue, it is a heaping pile of crap that never functioned anywhere close to what it was advertised as, 2) a decision made under the Bush admin.

  16. It should be noted that “Dubya” (not an otherwise brilliant mind or accomplished leader) had a vision that included returning to the moon in 2015…

  17. I don’t know enough about this issue to make a confident judgment about it.

    But James Bowery, a WN and one of the bloggers at Majority Rights, is a computer programmer and quite knowledgeable regarding scientific matters, and he has long been critical of NASA as a big, technosocialism bureaucracy that has impeded progress. He’s asserted before that private companies and individuals i.e. frontiersmen would’ve been far more effective.

  18. Who is saying that Nasa as it has existed in the LAST THIRTY YEARS was great?

    So yes, your right, it will now be up to the “free market.” We can have a spaceship with pepsi ads and Lady Gaga all over it built in China.

  19. Millirone,

    And who is talking about spaceships “with pepsi ads and Lady Gaga all over it built in China?”

    You can make a straw man about the “free market” and you can also make one regarding the “ZOG” by asserting that a completely government run space program would mean spaceships entirely manned and controlled by surly affirmative-action hire negroes like the ones you find at the DMV or Post Office.

    Anyway, like I said, I don’t know enough about the matter to confidently judge one way or another. You should take the issue up with Bowery, who’s argued that private companies and individuals would have advanced it much more.

  20. ….and the monent it stops being profitable to explore space, they can break it all up, asset strip it and sell the scrap metal to China for them to bult more tanks.

  21. Bernard, I wasnt speaking to you. I was speaking to Rollory. Your post was intelligent and not ranting.

    My point is that no one is saying that Nasa as it has existed for the last decades is worth anything for the very reason you just mentioned. It is being run by a government of incompetents. It is more a reflection of what could have been; the reality of what it is is clear.

  22. Millirone,

    I see. I didn’t know you were addressing Rollory.

    Well, looks like we agree that it is being run by a gov’t of incompetents.

  23. “Who is saying that Nasa as it has existed in the LAST THIRTY YEARS was great? … My point is that no one is saying that Nasa as it has existed for the last decades is worth anything for the very reason you just mentioned.”

    Try actually reading the OP:

    “Along with the National Park Service, I counted NASA among the handful of things that gave me some lingering sense of pride in America.”

    Any other questions?

    I could go through it line by line and explain how each sentence is full of precisely the poor assumptions and unjustified partisanship I am ranting about, but I suspect that would just bounce off of predetermined opinions. When an article is this wildly inaccurate, it isn’t about making an evidence-based point, it’s about feeling good and making one’s enemies look bad with whatever excuses are handy, and damn the facts.

  24. KH – Post #2 – Good on ’em. I want all the woefully delusional “educated” Whites, who wallowed in their own coolness, by “celebrating” the Semi-Black White Hating Kenyan Usurper, by voting for that loathesome creature, to suffer suffer suffer for thier ignorance, vanity, stupidity, and treason.

  25. Rollory makes some good criticism of NASA. My first encounter with NASA’s big government, big socialism bias was in ninth grade when I applied for a summer internship there and basically was told explicitly it was for minorities and it went to another girl in my class who was hardly interested in the subject and not terribly bright, but was supposedly Hispanic (despite blonde hair and blue eyes). What a joke. So NASA clearly needs an enormous shake up. That said I can’t help but looking at the well groomed black tied bespeckled engineers of the 60s sending men to the moon and see an America that existed very recently and actually was able to get things done. And I can’t help but see in Obama a man that can truly give a crap about our national achievements or any purpose beyond economic redistributionism. And that makes him a petty enemy to all that is great about America, and NASA’s bloated budget and lack of vision and addiction to the shuttle program doesn’t change that.

  26. 1.) The U.S. spends more money in Iraq every two days than on NASA every year.

    2.) No one objects to retiring the space shuttle. The problem is that they are not replacing it with anything else. They have some vague plan to let the private sector take over and get back to space in a few decades.

    3.) Please wake me up when the “private sector” leaves low Earth orbit. It seems to have enough problems with the task of just getting into space.

    4.) NASA is being turned into another version of the Post Office.

    5.) NASA has done all sorts of things in recent years: the Titan mission, the Mars rovers, discovering water on the Moon, mapping Mars, Hubble, the International Space Station, discovering extra-solar planets, etc.

  27. NASA had long since been all set to send men to Mars, starting with manned fly-bys of the planet in 1975. Wernher von Braun, the German rocket scientist who had come over to our side in 1945, had been designing a manned Mars project from the moment he arrived. In 1952 he published his Mars Project as a series of graphic articles called “Man Will Conquer Space Soon” in Collier’s magazine. It created a sensation. He was front and center in 1961 when NASA undertook Project Empire, which resulted in working plans for a manned Mars mission. Given the epic, the saga, the triumph of Project Apollo, Mars would naturally come next. All NASA and von Braun needed was the president’s and Congress’s blessings and the great adventure was a Go. Why would they so much as blink before saying the word?

    … The fact was, NASA had only one philosopher, Wernher von Braun. Toward the end of his life, von Braun knew he was dying of cancer and became very contemplative. I happened to hear him speak at a dinner in his honor in San Francisco. He raised the question of what the space program was really all about.

    It’s been a long time, but I remember him saying something like this: Here on Earth we live on a planet that is in orbit around the Sun. The Sun itself is a star that is on fire and will someday burn up, leaving our solar system uninhabitable. Therefore we must build a bridge to the stars, because as far as we know, we are the only sentient creatures in the entire universe. When do we start building that bridge to the stars? We begin as soon as we are able, and this is that time. We must not fail in this obligation we have to keep alive the only meaningful life we know of.

    Unfortunately, NASA couldn’t present as its spokesman and great philosopher a former high-ranking member of the Nazi Wehrmacht with a heavy German accent.

    … “Why not send robots?” is a common refrain. And once more it is the late Wernher von Braun who comes up with the rejoinder. One of the things he most enjoyed saying was that there is no computerized explorer in the world with more than a tiny fraction of the power of a chemical analog computer known as the human brain, which is easily reproduced by unskilled labor.

    What NASA needs now is the power of the Word. On Darwin’s tongue, the Word created a revolutionary and now well-nigh universal conception of the nature of human beings, or, rather, human beasts. On Freud’s tongue, the Word means that at this very moment there are probably several million orgasms occurring that would not have occurred had Freud never lived. Even the fact that he is proved to be a quack has not diminished the power of his Word.

    July 20, 1969, was the moment NASA needed, more than anything else in this world, the Word. But that was something NASA’s engineers had no specifications for. At this moment, that remains the only solution to recovering NASA’s true destiny, which is, of course, to build that bridge to the stars.

    One Giant Leap to Nowhere
    By TOM WOLFE
    Published: July 18, 2009

  28. @21, 20

    The Bush administration did propose retiring the Space Shuttle (STS) in 2010, to be replaced by the manned spacecraft developed via the Constellation Program by the year 2014. To actually terminate a program, however requires removing its funding, and Obama did precisely that in 2008 for FY 2010. In 2009, Obama also left out funding for Constellation in his proposed 2011 federal budget (effectively killing that project too). On April 15, 2010, Obama partially reversed course by proposing including some previously excluded funding, but with reduced mission capabilities for the spacecraft, namely that it would function solely as a rescue vehicle for the International Space Station.
    I think it’s become accepted conventional wisdom at this point that the Space Shuttle is far from perfect and certainly antiquated in many regards. It has had two major disasters and has become increasingly high maintenance over its 30-year lifetime (perhaps not entirely surprising given its reusable nature and age). Its capacity for on-board scientific experimentation has been greatly exceeded by that of the ISS. Whether it’s growth of crystals relevant to materials science, or growth of embryos relevant to human space travel, that type of zero gravity research is being carried out at the ISS. Where the Space Shuttle really proved its worth however, was in servicing satellites and the Hubble Space Telescope, with 5 successful missions to repair the Hubble alone. It’s possible that NASA will successfully develop so-called “repair bots” to do the work once carried out by the Space Shuttle, but whether such capable bots can and will be developed is speculation at this point.
    Through a combination of not funding the STS and not fully funding Constellation, our ability to service communications/military satellites and space telescopes will be dependent on successfully developing repair bots. I couldn’t find any detailed information on when NASA proposes fielding such bots or how far along the agency is in this endeavor that ultimately aims to replace the capacity of the Space Shuttle or a fully funded Constellation.
    There are institutional failures here, and Rollory is correct in stressing that they’re not all Barack Obama’s fault. The Bush presidency likely erred (again when it comes to our interests) in giving their potential and then realized Democratic successors political cover to defund STS and defund/underfund Constellation. But clearly, Obama bears primary responsibility for “not getting it” or worse yet “being against it”, by following through on the cancellation of STS but then not fully funding Constellation. And this based on at best a gamble that satellite/telescope repair can be conducted by bots that my cursory research indicates are the result of a NASA crash-program to fill the gap left by Obama’s budget cuts in manned space travel.
    As for “hope”, mine is firmly placed, not with with the bots, but in the possibility that more of us will recognize that Obama and his kingmakers/handlers have given us yet another signifier, confirming again the ruinous course that the United States are on. In an America that openly and actively discriminates against its founding and traditional population, I expect more of our cherished institutions to be degraded or abandoned, and our resulting capacities as a society to be diminished further. Which is why this movement is forming so rapidly; it’s nothing short of a fight to preserve our civilization.

  29. When I visited the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo I experienced a strange mix of pride and foreboding. It’s housed in a solitary tall building situated in the foothills overlooking the White Sands missle range. In the distance across a wide basin lies the Trinity Site. Outside the building are some rusting artifacts of the early space program, including the decrepit shell of a V2 you can actually walk right up to and touch. Alamogordo itself is overrun by mestizos and is for all intents and purposes a mexican town. But up in the foothills sits this haunting, nearly deserted museum and its dusty treasure trove of space history.

    Inside it’s clear that space history is a history of conspicuously White accomplishment. An elevator takes you to the top of the museum and you walk down ramps and stairs from floor to floor past pictures, plaques, and displays of smaller artifacts. It is staffed by a handful of elderly White men and women, many with personal connections to the space program or White Sands. Beside marvelling at the ingenuity and technology of those decades past, what I was seeing made me repeatedly wonder aloud, as happily sour and sarcastic as could be, “Where’s the diversity?” “Gee, how did we get to the moon without asian and arab engineers and mestizo slave labor?!?!”

    At EPCOT’s Mission to Mars they’ve set up various props to distract you while you wait on line to ride. On one wall is a timeline series of photos and plaques reminiscent of the NM museum but capturing only the most significant events – “first animal in orbit”, “first man in orbit”, “first spacewalk”, etc. It’s all White Americans and Russians until the most recent affirmative action shuttle missions. The very last photo and plaque is the only one that is actually false. I don’t recall the date on it, but it’s sometime in the near future. It commemorates the fictional “first family in orbit”. Yep, they’re african.

  30. Hunter,

    I am fascinated by space exploration and this issue, but I don’t know enough to speak with authority. It would be nice if James Bowery could weigh in here and offer some of his thoughts.

    I believe a lot of the large companies already involved in aerospace as contractors for NASA, companies like Boeing, Lockheed, etc., would continue to be involved. But I think with this change, more private companies such as smaller start-ups would be involved and compete. There are many smaller start-ups in the industry, companies like SpaceX which was founded by the South African exile and PayPal and Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk. Musk recently was interviewed about the change, and also talked about some of the greater efficiencies companies like his are capable of: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynJJfd3rKVI

    These smaller companies are out there, you just don’t hear about them a lot. SpaceX is one of the few that’s gotten a decent amount of publicity. I think a lot of them work on the more important issues involved, like making reusable rockets and bringing down the cost of, say, reaching low earth orbit low and thus making further goals much more easier and economically viable. Whereas a lot of the private space companies you seem to hear about in the media are more about providing billionaires with trips around the earth in orbit. More like publicity stunts.

  31. Hunter,

    The impediments are technological/economic and political. And both involve NASA and the federal government. Aerospace completely dominated by NASA and shut off to private companies and individuals means that pursuing space tech and activities really only is viable and open for the technocrats already in on the system and secure in it as lifelong bureaucrats. This can hold back technological innovation. Economically, it would be restricted not by cost efficiency but by how much of the federal budget it can capture and maintain.

    There is a political dimension as well. If there was enough technological progress outside of the direct control of NASA and the government, and space travel, exploration, habitation etc., became cheap enough to be viably pursued by individuals, families, groups, etc., then it would quickly become a political problem for the government. For one, it would make much of a massive bureaucracy like NASA obsolete. And it would effectively mean opening up new territory, new land that is potentially limitless and outside of the control of the government. Not only would it reduce the government’s power over space, but also over its territory on Earth as well, since it would open up an avenue for escape for people. It would open up the possibility of the ultimate “White flight.”

  32. James Bowery gave a testimony before the House Subcommitte on Space back in 1991. It contains some of his ideas on space exploration and opening space up to private citizens as pioneers.

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1531216&cid=30970574&art_pos=23

    Necessity and Incentives Opening the Space Frontier

    Testimony before the House Subcommittee on Space

    by James Bowery, Chairman, Coalition for Science and Commerce

    July 31, 1991

    Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Members of the Subcommittee:

    I am James Bowery, Chairman of the Coalition for Science and Commerce. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to address the subcommittee on the critical and historic topic of commercial incentives to open the space frontier.

    The Coalition for Science and Commerce is a grassroots network of citizen activists supporting greater public funding for diversified scientific research and greater private funding for proprietary technology and services. We believe these are mutually reinforcing policies which have been violated to the detriment of civilization. We believe in the constitutional provision of patents of invention and that the principles of free enterprise pertain to intellectual property. We therefore see technology development as a private sector responsibility. We also recognize that scientific knowledge is our common heritage and is therefore a proper function of government. We oppose government programs that remove procurement authority from scientists, supposedly in service of them. Rather we support the inclusion, on a per-grant basis, of all funding needed to purchase the use of needed goods and services, thereby creating a scientist-driven market for commercial high technology and services. We also oppose government subsidy of technology development. Rather we support legislation and policies that motivate the intelligent investment of private risk capital in the creation of commercially viable intellectual property.

    In 1990, after a 3 year effort with Congressman Ron Packard (CA) and a bipartisan team of Congressional leaders, we succeeded in passing the Launch Services Purchase Act of 1990, a law which requires NASA to procure launch services in a commercially reasonable manner from the private sector. The lobbying effort for this legislation came totally from taxpaying citizens acting in their home districts without a direct financial stake — the kind of political intended by our country’s founders, but now rarely seen in America.

    We ask citizens who work with us for the most valuable thing they can contribute: The voluntary and targeted investment of time, energy and resources in specific issues and positions which they support as taxpaying citizens of the United States. There is no collective action, no slush-fund and no bureaucracy within the Coalition: Only citizens encouraging each other to make the necessary sacrifices to participate in the political process, which is their birthright and duty as Americans. We are working to give interested taxpayers a voice that can be heard above the din of lobbyists who seek ever increasing government funding for their clients.

    Introduction

    Americans need a frontier, not a program.

    Incentives open frontiers, not plans.

    If this Subcommittee hears no other message through the barrage of studies, projections and policy recommendations, it must hear this message. A reformed space policy focused on opening the space frontier through commercial incentives will make all the difference to our future as a world, a nation and as individuals.

    Americans Need a Frontier

    When Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon, we won the “space race” against the Soviets and entered two decades of diminished expectations.

    The Apollo program elicited something deep within Americans. Something almost primal. Apollo was President Kennedy’s “New Frontier.” But when Americans found it was terminated as nothing more than a Cold War contest, we felt betrayed in ways we are still unable to articulate — betrayed right down to our pioneering souls. The result is that Americans will never again truly believe in government space programs and plans.

    Without a frontier, for the past two decades, Americans have operated under the inevitable conclusion that land, raw materials and wealth itself are fundamentally limited and therefore to be hoarded and controlled — rather than created. Out of this post-Apollo mentality, a deeply rooted cynicism has led young people into careers as lawyers and financial manipulators rather than farmers, inventors and engineers. It has led to an environmental movement which loathes humanity’s natural capacity to transform hostile environments with technology. It has led to cartels, wars over energy and a devastatingly expensive arms race. It has led businesses and investors to remain averse to high risk technology development even as they issue billions in high risk debt vehicles for corporate take-overs. It has led to a preference for real estate speculation over job creating investments, making it nearly impossible for most of those born in the mid-to-late baby boom of the 1950s to establish stable careers, homesteads and equity for retirement, even with two incomes.

    In short, the lack of a frontier is leading us away from the progressive values of the Age of Enlightenment, upon which our country was founded, and back to the stagnant feudalistic values of the middle ages. We look to the Japanese for cultural leadership. We forget the rule of law and submit to the rule of bureaucracy, both corporate and governmental; for in a world without frontiers, the future belongs to the bureaucrat, not the pioneer.

    No where is this failure of vision more apparent than in our space program where the laws of human nature and politics have overcome the laws of nature and the space frontier as in “Take off your engineering hat and put on your management hat.”

    First Apollo failed us. Then the shuttle raised and dashed our hopes by failing to provide easy access to space. We now look forward to the proposed space station as the last vestige of a dying dream written of by Werner Von Braun in Collier’s magazine during the 1950’s, even as its costs skyrocket and its capabilities dwindle into a symbolic gesture of lost greatness.

    The pioneering of frontiers is antithetical to bureaucracy and politics. The greatest incentive for opening frontiers is to escape from calcifying institutions. We betray our deepest values when we give ownership of our only frontier to such institutions.

    Therefore, these hearings on incentives to open the space frontier are among the most hopeful events in recent history. Those responsible for holding these hearings and acting to create pioneering incentives to finally open the space frontier, are to be commended for their insight, courage and leadership. They are earning for themselves and our entire civilization a place of honor in history.

    Incentives Open Frontiers

    Over the past few years the Coalition has worked with Congressman Ron Packard and a broad spectrum of other Congressional leaders to introduce and pass a bill providing the most significant incentive for opening the space frontier to date: The Launch Services Purchase Act of 1990. Similar to the Kelly Act of 1925, which created incentives for pioneering aviation, the LSPA seeks to synthesize a commercially reasonable market from existing government demand for launch services. Lowering the cost of access to space through incentives for commercial competition is the most important goal in our space policy because launch costs dominate all others.

    Although extensively amended from its original language, the LSPA remains a symbol of pioneering spirit, democracy in action and American values in the one place it counts the most: The Space Frontier.

    Congressman Bob Walker’s Omnibus Space Commercialization Act of 1991 contains two important provisions which will expand and empower the incentives of the LSPA. The first provision is the return of language in the LSPA to cover the Department of Defense as well as NASA, and to cover all space transportation, not just orbital launch. The second is the substantial funding authorization for launch and payload integration service vouchers under the Department of Transportation. The independence of the Department of Transportation’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation creates exactly the kind of checks needed to avoid conflicts of interest. Private investors can trust their capital with such carefully constructed incentives.

    Another important provision of the Omnibus Space Commercialization Act is the encouragement of many Federal agencies to participate in space activities. Such variety of funding sources further inhibits the politicization of space by replacing political competition for centralized programmatic control with incentives for performance in technical and commercial competition.

    These incentives are helping to open the space frontier because they discriminate on the basis of actual achievement rather than political savvy and psychological appeal. By acting as a market instead of a monopsony or as a source of capital, government funding ceases to control or compete with the initiatives of our citizenry. Instead government rewards viable citizen initiatives with the profits needed to further capitalize space services, while punishing failed management and technology with bankruptcy; conditions virtually impossible to replicate within the space paradigm of the past.

    Profit and bankruptcy are as essential to technical progress as mutation and selection are to biological evolution. They are the “invisible hand” that guide private investors to create viable solutions to our needs. Just as mutation and selection led life from water onto dry land, so profit and bankruptcy will remove the earthly limits on life and open to life the limitless ecological range of space.

    Distribution of funding in peer-reviewed grants to scientists which patronize commercially competitive companies not only utilizes market forces to optimize infrastructure design and operations, but it also spreads space dollars out to all Congressional districts without multi-year authorizations, technical prejudice or political gamesmanship. This apolitical cashflow creates commercial incentives and it builds solid justifications for the use of our space dollars with a hard-core nation-wide constituency.

    But robust justifications and hard-core political constituency pale in significance when compared the explosive energy of Americans challenged by the incentives and freedoms of a frontier.

    Americans can best be challenged by the following policy measures:

    * Distribute space funding to multiple independent agencies for the funding of unsolicited scientific proposals.

    * Require that the experiments be designed to fly on existing commercial services.

    * Expose the proposals to review by a patent examiner to ensure the work is genuine science, as defined under intellectual property laws, and therefore not in competition with private sector technology development.

    * Require that the principle investigator make the primary procurement decisions free from Federal Acquisition Regulations.

    * Minimize abuses and avoid multiyear authorization by keeping grants relatively small.

    * As commercial companies establish space operations, support their property rights.

    Comprehensive legislative language drafted for discussion by Dr. Andrew Cutler details many of the Coalition’s ideas on procurement, property rights and transitional policies. This legislative language is available on request.

    Stated simply:

    Fly lots of scientific missions using commercial services. Base them on fresh ideas. Let unfashionable ideas find funding. Decentralize procurement decisions. Avoid competition with the private sector by focusing on research rather than development. Enforce new property rights in space as they are defined.

    Give Americans a challenge and trust them to react with the resourcefulness and courage of our ancestors who risked everything to cross the oceans to settle a hostile continent. We won’t disappoint you.

    Conclusion

    The space frontier is a hostile environment with unlimited potential that demands our best. We can meet such a challenge only with the strength of our traditional American values — values uniquely adapted to opening frontiers.

    This Subcommittee is in a position of great privilege. The next millennium could witness the restoration of Earth’s environment and the transformation of space into an new kind of ecological range, virtually limitless in its extent and diversity. Those creating the incentives that open the space frontier now will be responsible for the fulfillment of this vision which appears to be the ultimate destiny of Western Civilization’s progressive tradition.

  33. I hear all kinds of arguments about how the moon program gave us all this important technology. Well, the US spent 4% of it’s GNP on the Apollo program in the 60’s. Had we diverted that 4% purely to research into semi-conductors, etc we probably would have had labtops and USB memory sticks 30 years ago. Sure the Moonshots were spectacular triumphs of science, but for 4% of the nations GNP for a decade I don’t consider Teflon to be much of a bargain. The death of the sun is billions of years into the future, there is no reason we need to go even deeper into debt in this very present to deal with that far off deadline.

  34. He’s burning the ships. He wants to strand us here, with them. We escaped Africa. They want to give us no chance to do the same again.

  35. Okay, I’m being a little silly. But, space exploration gives humanity a chance to escape. A chance to get out, branch out, air things out… and give humanity a chance to grow more diverse, not less. There’s a link between space exploration and human biodiversity…. Any thoughts?

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