I was planning to write a blog post about the Obama administration’s cancellation of NASA’s Constellation program, but I found that Michael Mealling has already written it for me! Read it here.
Michael doesn’t blog very often, but when he does, he nails it. This President may be killing Constellation for all the wrong reasons. In fact, I doubt that this President truly realizes what doors he has opened here.
But, as the Vulcan proverb says, “Only Nixon could go to China.”
Only a Democrat President, with the glitz and glamour of JFK, could possibly have gotten this far in killing the hagiography of JFK’s space program. No Republican would have a chance.
NASA doesn’t work as a method of getting large numbers of humans (and cargo) into space reliably, repeatably, and cheaply. It can’t, because it wasn’t designed to. To quote Rand Simberg, “in response to the Soviet socialist state enterprise for space, we created one of our own.” And, like every socialist state enterprise in the history of mankind, NASA is crippled from inception.
Obama has proposed sweeping away all of the cruft that has accreted around NASA’s human space flight establishment and replacing it with private enterprise. After all, if a government employee needs to fly from Washington to San Francisco they don’t fly on a government airplane. (Well, unless they’re Nancy Pelosi.) They fly on Delta Air Lines, with a discount for volume purchases. Why should low Earth orbit be any different?
As a lifelong space enthusiast and long-time space investor, I’m absolutely thrilled. Because, as I never cease pointing out to people… I don’t support “the space program.” I support the space industry. And you have to kill the former to allow room for the new industry to breathe.
In the distant past of 2004, I testified in front of the Aldridge Commission. You can read my testimony here, or the commission’s final report here. The Obama Administration’s proposals are much closer to these free-market recommendations than anything the Bush Administration ever considered implementing.
This has to get past Congress, where there are a lot of entrenched special interests getting ready to fight for their pork barrel spending. And we could still screw it all up by insisting that NASA regulate the “safety” of its successors, when that’s properly the job of the Department of Transportation (specifically, AST). This isn’t a done deal. But, if Obama is successful, we’ll be able to mark 2010 as the year that we finally quit subsidizing a massive socialist Ministry of Space, and launched a multi-billion dollar American-led space industry.
Which, in the middle of all the bad economic news around us, sounds very very good indeed.