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Friday, January 27, 2012

Gingrich Speech, X-Prizes and Britain's Lack ogf Ambition

  Last night C4 News reported on Newt' Gingrich's speech in Florida calling for a serious space programme, run on commercial lines, with the aim of getting to Mars in his second term and without increasing the space budget, indeed taking 10% of the budget of the useless NASA bureaucracy and putting it into X-Prizes.

   My only problem with that is that, since X-prizes work 33 to 100 times better than conventional funding he should make that 80-90%.

   C4's problem was not that. Indeed in a report which consisted largely of snide remarks about how many other Presidents had promised to do something (the massiver difference being that they all promised it would be done after they had retired) they entirely forgot/censored the bit about X-prizes.

   I have yet to see a serious argument against X-prizes form anybody but if anybody has one please let me know. The Washington Post's argument comes from a resident "expert" who says prizes in the $2 billion range don't work, even though smaller ones do. Since there have never been any prizes of that level this is a perfect demonstration of what is required tom be a media "expert" - being willing to say whatever the media want combined with never needing "no steenking facts".

   This is a comment I made on Mark Wadsworth.
If your ambition is limited to air and a limited amount of food, space industrialisation would be pointless.
If infinite amounts of electric power with minimal to zero running costs were desirable you would want solar power satellites. If communication were of interest you would like communications satellites - the amount of information &/or size of the receiver at our end varies inversely with the size of the satellite. If you fancied unlimited supplies of all those "peak" metals we are about to run out of you would want asteroid mining. If you thought more new materials than have ever been constructed before, put together under zero G might produce some with useful properties you would want space industrialisation. If you wanted the human race to ever aspire to its potential you would certainly want this.
Of course that excludes virtually everybody in British politics - hence our problems.
The only thing wrong with this is that Newt is only promising to put 10% of NASA's budget into X-Prizes.

  Next Big Future has an admirable article on the subject with these proposals for future X-Prizes
Prizes that follow up

Have a $60 million prize for a robotic lunar base by 2017.

$300 million prize for more elaborate robotic lunar base by 2018.

$200 million prize for robotic and/or teleoperated base in earth orbit by 2015.

$500 million prize for manned inflatable base at earth orbit by 2016.

$1 billion prize for manned inflatable base at a lagrange point by 2018.

$2 billion prize for manned base on the moon by 2019 (not permanent but weeks at a time.)

$10 billion prize for the permanent manned base by 2020.

Have a lot more sub-prizes for other goals.

  That comes to $14 billion which is the budget we give to NERC (a quango you have never heard of - one of a number existing to raise awareness/lie about global warming) over 16 years. So let anybody who says we can't afford it explain that.

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It's about time we had someone with imagination and ambition in British politics, rather than the dreary, envy-ridden, sociopaths like your first commenter.

Considering all the money this country wastes, the UK could have a base on the Moon, and be on our way to Mars instead.
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