So NASA has picked Boeing and SpaceX to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station. This should make Boeing investors happy and PayPal founder/Tesla CEO/Space X CEO Elon Musk even richer. Not to mention Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who owns Blue Origin, the company working with Boeing to develop a new American-built rocket engine. Good for them. Is there any reason the rest of us should get excited about a space taxi?
Yes, NASA was paying Russia $71 million per seat to send astronauts to the space station. The new “hotly contested” government contract (I believe using those four words together constitutes an oxymoron) is for $6.8 billion – and we know that government expenditures never go down. Yes, the situation in Ukraine and wherever else Vladimir Putin points his nose makes dealing with any Russian government organizations questionable. On the other hand, isn’t space the one place where we should be able to put aside our differences and work with Russia, China, India, Europe and any anyone else with a slingshot big enough to fling stuff into orbit?
The announcement by NASA administrator Charles Bolden sounds a little too jingoistic. USA! USA!
Today we are one step closer to launching our astronauts from US soil on American spacecraft and ending the nation’s sole reliance on Russia by 2017.
Then there’s the spacecraft itself – the so-called “space taxi.” I’ve ridden in taxis in major cities around the world and that description, like riding in Earth-bound cabs, makes me nauseous. After 60-plus years in space, is this the best we can do? It’s not even close to the one in “The Fifth Element.”
Yes, I know there are plenty of other things we ought to be spending money on. There are also plenty of other things we SHOULDN’T be spending our money on. We love to speculate on what’s secretly happening at places like Area 51. How boring and depressing it will be if we find out it’s just more weaponry.
Space travel should be a quest, not a profit center. It belongs on the front page, the science page and the education page, not the business page.
What do you think?