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Monday, 15 February 2010 01:30

Obama, NASA, private space ventures: Steady the course?

The Obama Administration has recommended commercial ventures to ferry astronauts back and forth between Earth and low-Earth orbit. Can it work? Will it succeed? What if this course of action fails?

NASA is entering a new era of manned space exploration after the Bush Administration's Constellation program was canceled in favor of another course of action for manned space exploration within the United States.

Involved in this new federal plan is a large initiative, proposed by the Obama White House, that allows private companies to provide the spacecraft to send astronauts into space and then return them safely back to Earth.

Read about the basics of the plan in the February 1, 2010 ABC News article 'Obama Budget: NASA Would Have Private Companies Launch Astronauts.'

Within the article, it states, 'If the Obama administration has its way, something like this may happen as NASA changes course under its proposed new budget. The Constellation project -- ordered by President Bush in 2004 to return astronauts to the moon and eventually send them to Mars -- would be canceled. The Obama administration says it was too expensive -- $9.1 billion so far -- and relied on old technology. '

One presidential administration's plan (the Bush plan) is scrapped by the next administration's plan (the Obama plan). In four or eight years, what prevents the next administration's plan (whomever's plan) to override this administration's plan?

The Wall Street Journal has two articles professing the Pros and Cons of the privatization of space exploration.

Page two continues with the case "against" and "for" the privatization of space as proposed by the Obama Administration.

Within the February 13, 2010 article 'Space: The Final Frontier of Profit?' author Taylor Dinerman 'makes a case against private space.'

Dinerman begins the article by saying: 'President Barack Obama's proposed plan for NASA bets that the private sector'”small, entrepreneurial firms as well as traditional aerospace companies'”can safely carry the burden of flying U.S. astronauts into space at a fraction of the former price."

"The main idea: to spend $6 billion over the next five years to help develop new commercial spacecraft capable of carrying humans'¦.The private sector simply is not up for the job.'

The Wall Street Journal says that 'Taylor Dinerman writes a regular column for thespacereview.com and is a member of the board of advisers of Space Energy, a company working on space-solar-power concepts.'

Author Peter Diamandis makes his case for the privatization of space with his article 'Space: The Final Frontier of Profit?

Diamandis begins by saying 'Government agencies have dominated space exploration for three decades. But in a new plan unveiled in President Barack Obama's 2011 budget earlier this month, a new player has taken center stage: American capitalism and entrepreneurship."

Diamandis adds,"The plan lays the foundation for the future Google, Cisco and Apple of space to be born, drive job creation and open the cosmos for the rest of us.'

The Wall Street Journal describes Diamandis as the, 'chief executive of the X Prize Foundation, a nonprofit that conducts incentivized competitions. He is also CEO of Zero Gravity, which offers weightless flights; and chairman of the Rocket Racing League, an interactive entertainment company.'

Page three continues with a thought about "steady is the course."

Read both articles for yourself, and learn more about the pros and cons of allowing private companies, and not NASA, ferry travelers to space.

Unfortunately, whatever the course of action is taken by the U.S. government the problem that seems to continue to occur every four or eight years is aptly stated by Taylor Dinerman.

Dinerman says at the conclusion of his article: 'Until the American government can bring itself to choose a path and stick to it for more than a single administration, its claim to be worthy of a great nation will be in doubt.'

NASA will probably continue to have problems unless one steady course of action is taken year after year after year.

Any program, whether Earth-based or space-based, will probably have difficulties when different White House Administrations make major changes to it after they come into power.

How can we succeed when one presidential administration emphasizes education for eight years, for instance, and the next one ignores it for four years?

Page four concludes.

Substitute other topics for education, such as infrastructure, defense, health care, foreign affairs, because none will be prosperous for long when different and drastic courses of action are taken every four to eight years.

Steady support for our basic programs must be given each and every year, whether the Democrats are in power or whether it is the Republicans, or they will falter and fail.

NASA is at the mercy of the whims of politicians, as is most everything else that is created and maintained from taxpayer money provided to our federal governments, whether in the United States or elsewhere in the world.

Our tax monies are used to support education, defense, heath care, infrastructure, foreign affairs, trade, business, science, and often times Earth exploration and space exploration'”and the list goes on and on.

Whether in the United States, or any other country of the world, that money needs to be spent wisely, honestly, and consistently without regard to conservative, liberal, or independent points of view.

Captains of ships sailing the seas have said for centuries: 'Steady the course!'

Let's apply that adage to our most important federal programs, whether it is education, defense, health care, or exploration.

A country divided by politics cannot prosper.


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