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Nov 01 2014

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This ridiculous article on Linkedin demanded a response

NASA should lead on all space travel…

Click on the link if you want to read typical statist drivel on why profit is bad and only the government can safely transport humans to orbit. Here was my reply:

I could not disagree more.

First, by your reasoning, the myriad of deaths in crashes in the first decade of the airplane should have led to a vast govt bureaucracy for the airplane industry instead of the free market leading to safe commercial airlines less than twenty years after Kitty Hawk. We may never see Virgin Galactic SpaceShipXXX models ever sending tourists to orbit, but that certainly doesn’t mean other commercial ventures like SNC’s Dream Chaser won’t, and soon. Ultimately, the Wright Brothers’ aircraft design (notoriously dangerous) was replaced by competing designs from commercial firms that performed much better. No govt agency was required for that to happen.

Second, you infer that Orbital System’s launch failure wouldn’t have happened if it was a NASA mission. Ignoring the fact that NASA missions and tests have killed far more astronauts and engineers than all emerging commercial space companies combined, I point out that Progress 44 failed in its resupply of the ISS in 2011. Russian space is “private” in name only, and much more a govt agency than not. Plus govt-bulit AJ-26 rockets are the prime suspects in the Antares launch failure.

Finally, you rail against profit and espouse safety as if the two are mutually exclusive when they’re really closely linked. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is specifically designed with safety in mind – indeed it’s already proven its engine-out capability on the CRS-1 mission. SpaceX has built safety into its design because it has had human spaceflight as its goal from the beginning. The ONLY way SpaceX will reach its goals of making a profit and providing human spaceflight is to be as safe as reasonable. Note I say “reasonable” and not “possible”. We still have humans die every year in plane crashes…because they’re designed to be as safe as reasonable.

I conclude by saying that even in NASA’s heyday when it had all the money they wanted thrown at it, it still killed engineers on the ground and astronauts on the launch pad. Giving NASA an Apollo-sized budget now will not eliminate failure, just make those failures more expensive than they would have been in the private sector. NASA’s decades of experience didn’t help the crews of Discovery or of Columbia. Continue to fund NASA for science missions, but I’ll take my chances with the emerging commercial space industry. They certainly can’t do any worse than 50 years of government bureaucracy.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2014/11/01/this-ridiculous-article-on-linkedin-demanded-a-response/

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