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Saturday, August 01, 2009


Space Adventures planned Dubai spaceport

So how much do we spend there. Well I have previously written on space budgets in 2006. & then it came to America $16bn, Europe $8bn, Japan $1.6bn, Russia $900m, China $1bn = $27.5 bn. Lets add another 10& for the rest gets us to $30.25bn. Regrettably the wikipedia article I used has been rewritten & doesn't now contain world budget figures however if we add 14.5% (2 years at 7% growth & i recessionary 1 at zero) we get $34.6 bn which is as good as I expect to get.

There is the question of how much of that is spent usefully. Taking Russia's space effort as being run efficiently & also taking it as giving them a space capacity matching the US one we get the American, European & Japanese space programmes as being about 5% efficient at space work & 95% efficient at porkbarreling. Putting Russia equal to America be doing Russia a disservice since shortly the entire supplying of the International Space Station will be in Russian hands as the Shuttle retires but it does give you an idea of how inefficient Western socialism is compared to Russian & Chinese capitalism. Anyway that suggests the total the world is actually spending on space development is ($0.8 + 0.4 + 0.1 + 0.9 +12) X 1.1 X 1.145 = $4 billion. Admittedly this does not include military programmes but none of these are designed to enhance the power of any non-terrestrial state.

However that has missed out a major factor. Space industry already produces $257 of value annually. While world tax rates vary I think looking at rates around the world the minimum in the developed world would be 35%. This means space is paying $90 billion to government.

So despite all the anti-technology wingeing what "we are spending in space" amounts to an profit for politicians of £86 billion annually. So long as we are putting less than that into X-Prizes or some equally efficient way of encouraging progress there can not even be the possibility of truthful argument that we are spending to much on this (& not subsidising windmills enough).

Alternately any country that offers a generation long tax holiday to space developers is likely to do very well.

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The paper Al-fin posted on Tolstiokevsky's imperitave mentioned that Columbus's voyage would probably not be funded in a democracy since there would be so many other needs here on earth for the money.
But Kennedy's Moon mission was funded by a democracy & some of the polar exploration was funded by democracies Also the 19thC colonial carve up of Africa, which I suspect was not of net economic benefit to the colonialists & many wars (Spanish American, Franco Prussian) were driven by popular approval.

This suggests that such popularity does exist if it is seen as competition & that the creative drive in most people is not nearly as strong as the competitive one.

It is also worth pointing out that while polar exploration was partly government supported it was also to a very large degree privately so. Today's blog will also bear on that.
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