Space Politics

President’s Commission on Moon, Mars and Beyond has been formed to provide comments to the president on moon and mars missions. They’re calling for comments from anyone, so below you’ll find mine. I’m doubtful that my comments will make any impression, but it’s worth the practice to think and write about such things. Oh, and I’ll probably change my mind on all of the following points, so take it as a snap shot of ideas only.

We need NASA pushing the raw/basic science missions. The ones that will teach us new things. Right behind that, we need funding for X Prize style “missions” anywhere that is ripe for private funding. For example, NASA should be sending mapping missions to the moon to find the best places to built hotels. They can even setup basic bases with power stations, radar, communications, etc…. Then, the government can fund an X Prise for the first private company to orbit the earth, send a human around the moon, land a man on the moon, keep a man on the moon for 2 weeks, etc…

Mars is farther off on the privatizing time line. We need to figure out how to get humans there to get some real work done. The Mars Direct program looks great. A good test run for it would be a mars sample return mission that makes its return fuel in situ.

Of course, anytime someone can come up with a good prize that’ll advance science, I say go for it. You’ll get 10 times the research out of it compared to spending the same amount on the lowest bidder. I think the contestants should be required to release any related patents and designs into the public domain. Their economic incentive is the prize money, and once you’ve had research paid for by the public, it should be owned by the public.