Last week’s post (SpaceX Delivers a Badly Needed Win for the U.S.) generated a wide range of responses. People saluted everything from the honesty of senior citizens (“They don’t make ‘em like your neighbor Fred anymore” ), to the lessons learned from mowing your own lawn (“Yes, Jews can and do mow!”) to the triumphs (and potential dangers) of letting private industry take over the U.S. space program.
Tom Hedberg, MSc, PhD, Executive Director of the International Medical Crisis Response Alliance, and a proud Hebrew lawn mower commented: “The only cold water I’d throw on your post from last week comes from my agreement with astrophysicist, Neil Tyson, about private industry’s involvement in international efforts at space exploration. The difference is between the space program as it has been–which was a purely scientific endeavor–and what it could turn into, which is a for-profit endeavor.”
Hedberg said the Falcon launch and docking “(which we all watched avidly, start to finish) was picture perfect.” But he said “it was more of a demonstration than a tactical mission” and it accomplished nothing that hasn’t been done before and as much as 15 years ago by NASA in collaboration with multiple contracted companies. “It’s a great ego-trip for everyone but what was really accomplished?” Hedberg asked.
“When we start talking about lunar stations and colonies on Mars, are WE going to need massive infusions of capital to fund research and development,” Hedberg wondered, adding that we’ll also need a focus again on pure science rather, than on the profit motive. “Imagine MuskMars, Inc. immediately starts mining copper ores and ‘accidentally’ contaminates and kills residual subsurface Martian lifeforms. Further, what kind of competition is this going to engender between megacorporate entities? How is that going to impact the safety of astronauts and the data they collect?” asked Hedberg.
The fact is that diverting 1/10th of our nation’s military budget (over $721 billion) to space science would move us toward the moon and Mars faster and more safely that tossing this bone to the corporate hounds,” Hedberg concluded.
What’s your take? We’d like to hear from you.
In the 1960s—another time of tremendous turmoil in our country—President John F. Kennedy famously said: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”
History tends to repeat itself. Occasionally that’s a good thing. We can only hope.
#SpaceX #NASA #Falcon rocket #Falcon #Elon Musk #Neil Tyson #IMCRA