Sunday, July 03, 2005

Space... finally a frontier.

I'm pretty sure the politicking behind the scenes has been tremendous considering the money, jobs and votes involved but it seems the direction of NASA is coming into focus. Rand had a link before hand to some of the big players propaganda here with some good comments from readers.

I have some strong feelings about space. I was ten when Neil and Buzz made history (and Mike too... can you imagine his mixed feelings? I'm sure he felt that some time in the future he would also walk on the moon. Men had vision back then..."Saturn by 75!" I even remember a math book in grade school had a photo of the Nerva engine in it.) I've also been a fan of hard sf forever. I believe in frontiers and personal liberty. Most of the last 30 years have been a disappointment for a kid that used to read about torch ships and such.

I think all the arguing about going about it misses the point, but then I've got my own ideas too.

I want to see private companies doing things in orbit and beyond. I think it's unstoppable. I also know that government will continue to spend my money in ways I don't always agree with... so I don't have much simpathy for those that think I'm a stinker because I'd like to advocate those ways when they don't agree. That's life.

It confuses me a bit that people don't see that being able to put 100 tons into orbit is a useful capability. I think people that would rather put little pieces into space and hope to build something useful in a reasonable time frame are unrealistic... even lacking in vision (which of course, they would accuse of me.)

Too many people are looking at things as either/or... I don't believe it's going to fall that way. Here's what I see...

Real spaceships don't land on planets. They are a means of enduring long duration flights to places. 100 tons is the mini-cooper of spaceships. It's how we are going to spend six to 18 months in flight to some destinations. Later we will put together 100 ton modules for larger ships. Governments will build the first of these ships and later private corporations will want them for themselves because government is going to lose it's tight grip on space activities. Why? Simply because they will not be able to compete in cost to orbit. Astronauts will get to their spaceships by buying a ticket from private companies.

This seems good to me.

I think we will colonize Mars first, but any colony, any where, that is self sustaining, will be the beginning of an economy that will keep us in space. Not only keep us in space for good, but give us a new expansive perspective on life, liberty and all that intangible stuff, ya know, like happiness. Life, liberty and happiness... sounds like something only guys with their heads in the clouds would write about, eh?

I've got a copy of Harry Stines book, "Halfway to Anywhere." Signed by the author who is an Arizona native. This is what may be that taxi to space.

Update: Leave it to Zubrin to design a torch ship!


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