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Wednesday, May 11, 2005


NASA & to a lesser extent the US as a whole is developing a very dog-in-the-manger attitude about space. They don't know what to do about it but they subconsciously know it is the most important territorial expansion of the human race since we left Africa & they don't want anybody else to have it.

Thus NASA is enforcing useless regulations on private US companies trying to go into space & the US as far as possible is doing the same to foreign ones. See how they are holding Virgin back.

What to do about it (more from hope you follow it):
Going back to the Moon is important but developing capabilities is even more so; and if we go back to the Moon by building another standing army to absorb all our space resources?

Let me say it again: the best way to get some of those capabilities is to define them, decide what they are worth, and give prizes to the first (or first and second) American company to develop those capabilities and demonstrate them. Five billion dollars to the first company that sends the same ship to circular Low Earth Orbit 24 times in one year with a payload of 5,000 pounds. Twenty billion to the first company that puts 31 Americans on the Moon and keeps them there alive and well for 3 years and a day. Ten billion to the first American company that builds 10 space ships with a payload of 10,000 pounds and uses those ships to deliver 100,000 pounds of anything at all to LEO in a period of 2 months. I'm making up these numbers as I write this, but surely the point is clear? Surely it would be worth that much in each case? And since it costs nothing unless the goal is achieved, why not post those prizes? What harm will it do?

Just translate dollars into pounds & American company into British - we could literally have the moon for less than WE spent on Iraq, probably less than the UK share of taking & holding Kossovo. Britain is, along with Canada in second place of X-Prize runners (3 entrants) . If we don't have enough clout with Washington to insist that they put no obstacles in the way of Branson & other entrepreneurs then what has Blair spent the last 3 years doing?

The long term benefits from this make the phrase "the sky's the limit" look mundane. In under 50 years, perhaps a lot under, asteroid gold will cost less than the same weight of titanium foam girders (you can only keep bubbles in metal in zero G) & both will be common.

This is something freemarketist organisations like the Adam Smith Institute are in a unique position in British politics to encourage.

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