Saturday, September 17, 2011

Props To The O

Credit where credit is due to the prez--a novelty in these precincts to be sure. Behold a passage from Obama's Excellent Twitter Adventure:

We’re still using the same models for space travel that we used with the Apollo program 30, 40 years ago. And so what we’ve said is, rather than keep on doing the same thing, let’s invest in basic research around new technologies that can get us places faster, allow human space flight to last longer.
And what you’re seeing now is NASA, I think, redefining its mission. And we’ve set a goal to let’s ultimately get to Mars. A good pit stop is an asteroid. I haven’t actually — we haven’t identified the actual asteroid yet, in case people are wondering. [Laughter.] But the point is, let’s start stretching the boundaries, so we’re not doing the same thing over and over again, but rather let’s start thinking about what’s the next horizon, what’s the next frontier out there.
But in order to do that, we’re actually going to need some technological breakthroughs that we don’t have yet. And what we can do is for some of this low-orbit stuff, some of the more routine space travel — obviously no space travel is routine, but it could become more routine over time — let’s allow the private sector to get in so that they can, for example, send these low-Earth-orbit vehicles into space, and we may be able to achieve a point in time where those of you who are just dying to go into space, you can buy a ticket, and a private carrier can potentially take you up there,while the government focuses on the big breakthroughs that require much larger investments and involve much greater risk.

Indeed and huzzah on all counts. Even the Progressive-in-Chief has grokked that the sclerotic centralized control of American space exploration by the horribly bloated NASA apparatus is way overdue for paradigm change. Unfortunately congress refuses to read the wall writing and has actually increased funding for the struggling, years behind, stupefyingly cost-overrun Space Launch System and the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle both of which bid fair to make the billion dollar per launch Shuttle program look like a bargain. Getting out of the regulatory way of space privatization efforts is the only sane way forward. Such efforts are progressing very nicely right now but wariness of the heavy bureaucratic hand of the NASA space police should at a keen edge.

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