Last week, Avatar director James Cameron painted a rosy picture
of privatized space exploration, suggesting that the president's anemic NASA budget
will clear the way for competitive market forces to jump-start the
industry. In the days since, others have come forward to praise Obama's plan to divert national
funding to private aeronautics companies. But not everyone is thrilled to see NASA become
such a low priority for the government (and almost no one has echoed
Cameron's sentiment that "rockets really run on dreams").
- While America Rests, Others Won't Charles Krauthammer
is dismayed at the thought of the U.S. falling behind other nations.
"Sure, decades from now there will be a robust private space-travel
industry. But that is a long time. In the interim, space will be owned
by Russia and then China."
- NASA Is Irreplaceable in the Public Imagination In a New York Times roundtable, John Logsdon
argues that "the principal benefits from human spaceflight are
intangible, but nevertheless substantial." The moon missions of the
'60s instilled in Americans a sense of "international prestige and
national pride," something Logsdon thinks is best produced by
initiatives at the federal level.
- A Sensible Division of Labor Foreign Policy's Esther Dyson
thinks Obama's proposed marriage of public funds with private
development resources is for the best. Dyson reaches back into the past
for a telling analogy:
The U.S. Defense Department may have created the Internet, but had it
kept control of the technology, it's unlikely the Web would have become
the vibrant public resource it is today. That credit goes to the
investment and activity of private citizens and private companies,
starting in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
- What Would Marx Do? Probably Not This At The Huffington Post, James Bacchus
dryly points out that the president's vision for a private space
industry doesn't square with one of the most common criticisms leveled
at him. "If the President is a socialist, as so many of his adversaries
his space proposals certainly don't show it. He wants to stake the
future of much of the U.S. manned space program on the success of free
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