Skip to comments.Space program was our biggest bridge to nowhere(Ignorance Alert)
Posted on 07/12/2011 6:25:48 PM PDT by CharlyFord
Friday marked the space shuttle's swan song, as the Atlantis lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center for the program's 135th and final flight.
It was President George W. Bush who announced the shuttle's retirement with his 2004 "Vision for Space Exploration," which included a moon base and "human missions to Mars and to worlds beyond." But it was President Obama who put the kibosh on that vision, canceling the moon project and leaving "worlds beyond" in doubt.
"We are retiring the shuttle in favor of nothing," Michael Griffin, Bush's NASA administrator, wailed to the Washington Post recently.
Here, as usual, "nothing" gets a bad rap. I'll be "in favor of nothing" until the advocates of federally funded spaceflight can come up with an argument for it that doesn't make me spray coffee out my nose.
NASA's Griffin failed that test in 2005, when he gave an interview to the Washington Post insisting it was essential that "Western values" accompany those who eventually "colonize the solar system," because "we know the kind of society we would get if you, for example, carry Soviet values. That means you want a gulag on Mars. Is that what you're looking for?"
Well ... is it, punk?
Outside of avoiding the hypothetical horror of Martian gulags, what does the ordinary taxpayer get from the space program?
Not much, says Robin Hanson, a George Mason University economist and research associate at Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute: The benefits are "mostly like the pyramids -- national prestige and being part of history."
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonexaminer.com ...
NASA has never consumed more than one cent of any tax dollar!
I would argue microwave ovens evolved from space research, while the applied physics may have preceded the space race.
Tellingly, the justification for the two programs was circular: the Shuttle was needed to build and service the Space Station, and the Space Station was needed to give the Shuttle something to build and service and a place to go when in orbit.
The net effect was an extraordinarily expensive aerospace jobs program of slim benefit to the country. The safe, cheap, and proven line of German engineered Saturn rockets were foolishly abandoned. Promises of gains from zero-G research and manufacturing on the Shuttle and Space Station proved to be illusory. The projections of cheap space flight to orbit were never fulfilled and two catastrophic accidents marked the Shuttle as inherently dangerous.
The US would have been far better served if, instead of the Shuttle and Space Station, we had completed the Apollo program as originally envisioned. Then, using the reliable and robust Saturn 5, we could have gradually established one or more manned bases on the moon and carried out an intense program of unmanned exploration of the solar system.
As it was, with the Shuttle and Space Station circling in near earth orbit, we are like a teenager who struggled and got his drivers license and a car only to spend his high school years driving around the block. What comes next? Having squandered our lead in manned exploration of the Moon, we are likely to see a Chinese landing and base there before Americans return to the Moon.
The first microwave for home use was introduced by Tappan in 1955.
The heating effect of microwaves was discovered accidentally in 1945. Percy Spencer, an American self-taught engineer from Howland, Maine, was building magnetrons for radar sets with the American company Raytheon. He was working on an active radar set when he noticed that a Mr. Goodbar he had in his pocket started to melt. The radar had melted his chocolate bar with microwaves. The first food to be deliberately cooked with Spencer’s microwave was popcorn, and the second was an egg, which exploded in the face of one of the experimenters.
 To verify his finding, Spencer created a high density electromagnetic field by feeding microwave power into a metal box from which it had no way to escape. When food was placed in the box with the microwave energy, the temperature of the food rose rapidly.
On October 8, 1945 Raytheon filed a US patent for Spencer’s microwave cooking process and an oven that heated food using microwave energy was placed in a Boston restaurant for testing. In 1947, the company built the Radarange, the first commercial microwave oven in the world. It was almost 1.8 metres (5 ft 11 in) tall, weighed 340 kilograms (750 lb) and cost about US$5000 each. It consumed 3 kilowatts, about three times as much as today’s microwave ovens, and was water-cooled. The first Radarange was installed (and remains) in the galley of the nuclear-powered passenger/cargo ship NS Savannah. An early commercial model introduced in 1954 consumed 1.6 kilowatts and sold for US$2000 to US$3000. Raytheon licensed its technology to the Tappan Stove company of Mansfield, Ohio in 1952. They tried to market a large, 220 volt, wall unit as a home microwave oven in 1955 for a price of US$1295, but it did not sell well.
I see we have several believers in big government programs among us who have apparently never read Frederick Bastiat’s “That Which Is Seen, And That Which Is Not Seen.”
Sure, everyone many would say that any big government program provides “good” things. The Great Society provided housing to the poor, food to the hungry. Social Security takes care of the old. The space program gave us Tang and many useful devices.
The point is, however, that in order for the government to produce all of these “good” things, the government had to seize capital from the private sector. That is money that the private sector did not have to invest and that investment did not create what it would have.
We will never know what “good” services or devices we would have had had the private sector been allowed to keep the money that was spent by HUD or the EPA or NASA.
Who knows, we may have been much further along in space flight and all of the technology that goes with it if NASA had never existed.
Of course NASA wasn’t really created for the feel good, let’s go to the moon adventurism. Isn’t it strange how the same tech that would send a rocket to the moon would also send a ballistic missile to the Soviet Union?
Throughout history almost all of our technical, scientific and medical advancements have been the result of war. The only reason we had a significant space program was that it was a reaction to the Soviet space program.
I agree with you. The space shuttle program was over hyped, over priced and returned far less in value that could have been received by the alternatives. Example: the Hubble space telescope could have been replaced by a new upgraded telescope cheaper than the repair of the old. The shuttle program became an expensive hobby and toy for a bunch of grown up children. Science, technology and all the rest took a back seat to a bunch of joy rides. NASA had become a bloated agency with its fingers in everything. Did you know they have a television station? Did you know they were the origin of the fake global warming temperatures via GIS and Mann? They have their fingers in a multitude of things that are not remotely related to space.
Fascinating post and the type of visionary we need in charge of “our” space program. No comment about Muslims being left out as you envision a success.
I'll accept "most measures", although there is not and presumably will not be, anything that can "challenge" its capability, so in a sense it is ( and will remain ) "unmeasured", recalling that measurement means comparison with a standard.
It was just way more expensive to operate than it was claimed it would be, so it never met its design goal of routine access to space. If this goal is achieved in my lifetime, I'll die of surprise.
You’re typing and communicating on one. Oh, sure, laptops and the Net would have come along eventually...around 2040 or so.
Not in your lifetime, nor your great grandchildren’s great grandchildren’s lifetimes either.
I see this all the time. Liberal idiots who claim to be so smart cannot see one step past the immediacy of the issue they’re talking about.
The Space Shuttle did not deliver some major specifically named and previously enummerated benefit therefore it failed. Disregard all the information that has been gained.
We have to raise taxes to bring in more money. Conveniently forgetting that every time taxes are lowered the government receives more money.
We have to give more money directly to the poor otherwise they’ll starve. Completely forgetting that putting people to work is a bigger benefit to the country than just providing the handout.
They do it ALL THE TIME. If something does not receive a direct benefit that they can tangibly see, it’s irrelevant.
Of course, that method leads to some pretty bad results but the results are not what they are interested in. They just want to do something that shows immediate short term help and then move on to the next thing, never stopping to ask if the help they provided actually....helped.
Well I'll give you a damn good reason to have a robust presence in space.
In 1994 a comet, Shoemaker-Levy, hit Jupiter. We observed it in detail.
If it had hit Earth instead, it would have been the equivalent of millions of H-bombs going off at the same time. A dinosaur-killer, and probably a humanity killer.
With a strong presence in space and some relatively minor funds spent on tracking space objects, we could easily locate anything that might hit the earth far enough out to divert it. With existing tech.
Such objects have struck the earth in the past, and WILL do so again. Admittedly, the chance of this happening in the next century are pretty slim. OTOH, they're just as good in the next century as in any other century of the next billion years.
But given the relatively minor cost for such a capability as compared to the enormous damage a strike would cause, I contend it would be a damn good investment. Global warming isn't in it.
That some rather silly movies have been made about this idea doesn't invalidate it.
Libertarian pseudo-intelligent faux writing. The technical and everyday benefits we have gotten from the space program have been tremendous, and accruing since the 1960’s.
Weather satellites save lives, help predict weather patterns (re agriculture/rain, etc), and monitor volcanoes, tsunamis, etc.
My smaller-than-a-cigarette box defibrilator in my chest was a direct descendant of American miniaturization programs for the space program.
And the list goes on. THe writer from CATO is an ignorant and arrogant fool. An amateur in a professional’s world, and boy is he lost.
"Successful recovery of 400,000 tons or more of precious metals contained in the smallest and least rich of these metallic NEAs could yield products worth $5.1 trillion (US) at recent market prices."
Wow so the internet,MRI’s,CAT scans, DNA recombinate insulin and insulin pumps are just nothing... who knew? These a long with many other advances in m the medical and scientific communities are direct results of the shuttle program.
The Germans regarded solid fueled rockets as inherently unsuitable for manned space flight because, like bottle rockets, they cannot be controlled by throttle or shut off once ignited. The complexity of the Shuttle design also created more modes of failure. In retirement, the German engineers grimly concluded that the Shuttle would kill people.
And, as you point out, in search of new missions, NASA lost its focus on manned space flight. Not once but twice, the organization made operational decisions that killed astronauts.
Moreover, NASA's grip on climate science has led to perverse consequences. NASA emphasized the creation and analysis of vast streams of data from its network of satellites and ground stations. This led to better short term weather forecasts but skewed climate science toward comprehensive computer models.
NASA scientists were repeatedly embarrassed by the more accurate projections of old style meteorologists who focused on cyclical patterns instead of bulk data modeling. NASA's answer was to shut off most of the funding to the critics and marginalize them in the scientific community. And, as you point out, NASA has been a relentless promoter of global warming.
Without the clear and compelling goal of the Moon race, NASA developed a dismal record of colossal waste, bad engineering, dead astronauts, and dodgy science. Mercifully, private enterprise seems poised to resurrect American manned space flight capabilities.
Wouldn't it be nice to have all the dirty manufacturing done on the moon? That way the Earth could be used for food (maybe we could grow food on the moon too?) and habitat. Now that would make the environment wackos happy!
The Shuttle accidents were entirely preventable. 1) do not launch the shuttle if it is covered with ice sickles. 2) Use the good foam not the environmentally friendly foam. Problem solved.