the Bush administration has initiated another brilliant behind the scenes – or actually right in your face – move to increase $$ opportunities for the private sector. this whole mission to the moon and mars thing – why? what the fuck? what can we do on the moon? it costs so much money to send humans into space in the first place, let alone send them to the moon and mars. woopdeedoo!! we’re goin to the moon! this isn’t the 1960’s and we’re not in the cold war – oh no! china might make it to the moon! so what? we’ve been there, done that. hmmm… unless … unless china might set up a moon base and train nuclear missiles on the US! well, then – we definitely need to get back to the moon so we can pre-emptively blow them up. kind of like Iraq in space.
but really, it’s just a jumping point to getting to mars, right? that’s why we should go to the moon, right? sure. uh-huh. billions and billions of dollars will be spent on missions that have nearly 0 – ZERO! – opportunities for scientific advance. we can send autonomous robots all over the solar system, at fractions of the price tag it will cost to send humans. if we lose a robot here and there, the overall cost of robot missions will still keep us ahead of what one single human based mission will cost.
the real culprit here is opening space to the corporate sector. i don’t deny that private corporations will likely produce cheaper and more effective instruments and missions into space. but they will likely keep their results private, and start to patent and hold private any discoveries that they may make. space will no longer belong to everyone (does it now anyway?). it will also pave the way for narrowly focused space missions that don’t advance our knowledge of the universe, the solar system, our planet, what have you. there will be no more exploration for the sake of knowledge – it will only be exploration to satisfy the bottom line. and that’s where the real problem lies.
bush’s new streamlining of NASA to get the US back to the moon and mars is narrow in its desire to keep the US in the front of all new milestones, its ability to sideline broad based scientific advances, and giving his rich buddies and lobbying corporations another strangle hold on a long off-limits market.