PLEASE NOTE:


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CCNet DEBATE: CHANGING SWORDS INTO SPACESHIPS


(1) A NOTE FROM THE 'SPACE REALITY COUNCIL'
    Col Pete Worden <wordenp@pentagon.af.mil>

(2) IF WE WANT TO GO TO SPACE TO STAY, SPACE HAS TO PAY
    Jim Benson <Jim@SpaceDev.Com>

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(1) A NOTE FROM THE 'SPACE REALITY COUNCIL'

From Col Pete Worden, XOR <wordenp@pentagon.af.mil>

Benny,

I have read the philosophical exchanges on future directions for space
exploration with considerable interest. I had vowed to remain silent. 
But I cannot resist injecting a note of realism, particularly with
regard to Ian Crawford's suggestion that we transfer military funding
to space exploration. My primary comment is "been there, done that." 
I was the staff officer in former U.S. President George Bush's White
House responsible for overseeing his "Space Exploration Initiative"
(SEI) in 1989-1992. We felt that with the end of the Cold War,
something along the lines Dr Crawford suggested could fund manned
exploration and eventual colonization of the moon and Mars. With the
military budget in decline and some concern about maintaining America's
aerospace technology base we got President Bush's Office of Management
and Budget (OMB) to lay in the start of a multi-hundred billion dollar
exploration program -- about $2 billion for a start. This initiative
went exactly nowhere. Not the least of the problems was our Congress
which refused to give us anything for the SEI (and even cut out the
modest amount we were spending to ensure this "snake" was killed very
dead). Interesting side note -- the "ringleader" in killing SEI was
then Senator (and possible future President) Al Gore. We didn't get
much support from the pro-military or aerospace industry sectors
either. All this was one very good example of Machiavelli's dictum that
changing the order of things is the most difficult task as it has only
lukewarm support from those who would benefit and vigorous opposition
of those who would suffer. This is not to say the idea of using
military resources is impossible -- but it is VERY HARD!!

We concluded, based on our SEI experience, that investment in space (or
anything else for that matter) with public funds would be motivated by
one of three rationale -- greed, fear, and curiousity -- in that order.
Despite the optimistic assessments of various space zealots about vast
resouces in space, there are only modest (but growing) near-turn
returns. And those returns all come from very close to home (LEO and
GEO orbits). There is certainly very little on the horizon to fuel a
land grab for the solar system. Second, lacking agressive space aliens
or Nazis on Mars, it's unlikely that space threats will motivate much
spending. We did look at the asteroid threat and concluded that that
could justify a modest investment -- probably on the order of a few
tens of millions of dollars per year. And we are on our way to such a
modest program. But this program is certainly not the $trillions that
some have in mind. Finally, curiousity (scientific) is a motivator.
However, it is a distant third in generating resources as the world's
space agencies know well.  Even in the best of times, scientific
exploration of the Solar System falls well below other priorities (pet
food for example) in most people's minds.

It's always good to hear philosophy from various "ivory towers."  I
just couldn't resist injecting a note from the "Space Reality Council."

Colonel S. Pete Worden
United States Air Force

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(2) IF WE WANT TO GO TO SPACE TO STAY, SPACE HAS TO PAY

From Jim Benson <Jim@SpaceDev.Com>

Wrong: Swords into Spaceships

These arguments always seem to completely miss the point. Please keep
in mind two ideas: 1) Space is a place and not a government program,
and 2) If we want to go to space to stay, space has to pay.

The point is that we do not need nor want nor can afford taxpayer
dollars to create and subsidize humans in space. There are hundreds
of ways space can pay, and we need to find the smallest, easiest and
least expensive that can be done today, do them, and build on that
for tomorrow.

I believe it is a complete waste of time and energy to debate
anything that requires taxpayer subsidies for "making space happen,"
simply because it is in the long run counter-productive.

Jim Benson - CEO - SpaceDev (www.spacedev.com)

         SpaceDev - NEAP (Near Earth Asteroid Prospector)
-o-  Commercial Space Exploration & Development of Space Resources  -o-
           http://www.spacedev.com  -o-  Info@SpaceDev.Com
     To the Moon, asteroids and Mars, and beyond to the stars.



CCCMENU CCC for 1999

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