2018 American Space Policy: Gateway to Moon or Giant Leap into Quicksand?


Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 06 September 2018

Space Policy Unknown

Spending to Eternity without any clear goals

NASA says it’s building a gateway to the Moon—critics say it’s just a gate,
or, “It is the next giant leap into quicksand."
Ars Technica, September 6, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

The article above discusses the state of American Space Policy.

 

American Space Policy

A Discussion

The Rocket to Nowhere?
This article points out the lack of any clear goals or destination for NASA’s manned spaceflight programs, except to figure out how to spend money.

In the unmanned realm, the policy has been to shift from NASA providing our orbital, scientific, and manned capacities to dispensing massive contracts to private companies such as Space-X, marking what looks like the complete corporatization of America’s unmanned orbital spaceflight capacity necessary for orbital and scientific tasks, for communications and GPS, and potentially for manned flights to keep the space station running.

But, the real question involves our long term goals, and how much it costs to reach them. The first goal would be scientific understanding of our solar system and the universe around us.
Understanding can be pursued at a relatively much lower cost using scientific probes, without ever needing to send humans to the Moon or Mars, at small fractions of the cost of manned flight, for a whole lot more missions. The second goal would be exploitation of resources requiring a human presence.

The very notion that we’d spend the vast amounts of energy, time, money, and resources necessary here on Earth to even put the equipment into space necessary to mine raw resources from space, has always struck me as crazy.

The incredibly high costs to do so shows us that for that to make sense, things have gone terribly wrong here on the surface of Earth, if we can’t find what we need here, or control ourselves enough to remain within the vast limits of our ecosystem.

At those costs, of the manned mining of space, it would be much cheaper to use that money to fix the markets, to fix the situation here on Earth that makes, “space mining,” even seem fiscally sensible or physically necessary.
That we think that bringing raw materials from is space somehow cheaper and easier than digging them out of the Earth, shows how out of balance that both our world, and our judgment, have become.

At this point we cannot effectively educate, medicate, employ, nor retire the average American citizen, let alone bring them to their potential, as our leaders fight over weather they will be building stacks of taxpayer money in their, “private contractor’s,” pockets, pointed at Mars, or at the Moon.

It seems to me that the social, political, and economic issues we face are going to assure that NASA, and their crazy plans for manned, semi-private, “space programs,” are going to be predominantly limited to Earth orbit for quite some time into the future.

 

 

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