Feb 10 2015

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Pretty good article on how Prizes and Competitions spur space advances

With a focus the Google Lunar Xprize. The author lists areas where future prizes/competitions could be awarded:

  1. Geostationary orbit (GEO) combined tourism hotels/space stations
  2. Orbital lunar space tourism
  3. Lunar scientific activities
  4. Lunar in situ resource utilization experiments
  5. Lunar sample return
  6. Space debris resource management
  7. Low Earth orbit (LEO) and GEO spacecraft servicing
  8. LEO fuel depot services
  9. Asteroid mining
  10. Lunar resource exploitation
  11. Solar system travel enabling opportunities; and my favorite
  12. The pub at the gateway to the solar system (probably in GEO)

It’s a good list, though I’d remove items 1 (Bigelow Aerospace is well on their way to doing this, so why have an award?), 3 (I’d remove this unless NASA sponsors the contest to cover mission areas that they’d like to execute but don’t have the money for), 9 (Same rationale as #1, except replace Bigelow with Deep Space Industries). I’d modify 5 to sample from specific areas like the South Pole (for water) or some area where we expect a high concentration of REEs or Platinums. Finally, I’d replace 10 with “3D printing using lunar regolith”.

Space technology prizes and challenges are the best, most cost-effective path to innovation. Period. Lots of nay-sayers in the article’s comments…They’re wrong.

I have only one quibble with the article:

Eventually the regulatory people will catch up, and the lawyers will figure out how to make it legal, but right now the focus will need to be on the new business opportunities that are opening up. If only $30 million is needed as an incentive to get landers on the Moon, how soon will the other elements of this commercial space exploration sector follow?

“When the regulatory people catch up” is not a good thing. In fact, if you want to kill the possibility of small amateur teams doing great things, regulate the activity. Then only well-connected corporations will be able to undertake the activity, and they won’t be so interested in innovation, just staying well-connected.

It’s already “legal”, so we don’t need teams of lawyers “to make it legal”. What I just said about regulators? Ditto and twice on Sunday for Lawyers. We don’t need no stinkin’ lawyers mucking up a good thing.

IMO, we all need to get out of the mindset that our benevolent leaders in Washington need to bless our very existence. We’re Americans, for Heaven’s sake! We crossed the Atlantic in small wooden ships and settled this great land with nothing but grit and determination! To get away from elites who thought they knew what was best for the peasants, I might add. It’s high time we unwrap ourselves from our suit of bubble wrap and rediscover our Pioneering spirit…not just in space exploration, but in everyday life. Walk a trail you’ve never walked, talk to someone new today…Challenge yourself!

Thus ends this Public Service Rant.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/02/10/pretty-good-article-on-how-prizes-and-competitions-spur-space-advances/

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