Majority Sees U.S. Leadership in Space as Essential – Pew Research Center

Majority Sees U.S. Leadership in Space as Essential – Pew Research Center.

The finding here, no surprise, is that Americans still want to be leaders in space, especially as China gears up to challenge the US lead at some point in the future.

The problem, of course, is that America can no longer afford that leadership if it is going to rely entirely upon government largesse, or upon a NASA that is still lurching uncertainly toward its future.

The American space program needs a rethink, one that neither hogs the effort for the government, nor dumps the burden of off-planet development onto the backs of the private sector. It is, in short, time for a new vision of space that incorporates a public-private partnership and the means to pay for the public part of that effort.

1 thought on “Majority Sees U.S. Leadership in Space as Essential – Pew Research Center

  1. The problem with Nasa can sadly be laid at the feet of Nixon, who took away all the destinations (“vision” is so liberal….) but kept all the facilities (district pork! Yum!)

    Since that moment NASA has been a collection of squabbling locations divvying up a budget. More akin to a disfunctional research institution than a peak body.

    Add to that the mil complex’s now-expert milking of the cost-plus teat (remember that although Nasa is .gov every piece of hardware they have or ever have had was made by, wait for it, the private sector…) and you steadily get less and less bang for your space buck.

    It’s now an uttely unsolvable mess. Facilities won’t be consolidated (congress won’t allow it). The usual-suspect contractors won’t reform (zero incentive). Presidents will continue to issue vote-winning direction statements with no time limits (e.g. “before the decade us out “).

    To respond directly to your prescription, David, “Public-private partnership” is, in short, the status quo, and a big part of what’s wrong.

    Conservatives like to criticize what they perceive as government seed funding attempting to “pick winners” — when actually its simply an investment in entrepreneurship that has a stellar record nearly everywhere of providing great returns (the few spectacular failures notwithstanding).

    The conservative alternative — those vaunted “public private partnerships” — are, by contrast, rarely more than out-and-out crony enrichment. Illustrated perfectly by Nasa and the private companies that (poorly) build its gear.

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