Sunday, March 19, 2017

New Worlds Coming?

By Kaigani Turner
Besides the return to industrialism (and later, agrarianism), another resemblance the U.S. has to Russia is our continuation of costly space programs. Spin-offs of these efforts do compensate at least partially for our investment, but space programs that support continuation of globalism (for example) may not pay off very well as trade dwindles due to diminishing resources. Another longshot, or rather, moonshot, is the proposal to NASA by Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin to set up infrastructure on and around the moon that will be the beginnings of an effort to support "millions of people living and working in space."

That sounds like it could become a bit expensive, even if undertaken by fanatically dedicated engineers. I can't help but wonder if the urge to populate space stems from a Plan B choice regarding the carrying capacity of Plan A (Earth). If that is the motivation, then it seems to me that we could get along fine without Plan B if nations would be willing to live in communion with nature rather than always seek to dominate it (though the population explosion does make that option quite difficult, as well).

Yet, the challenge of space exploitation might substitute nicely for the youthful urge to develop and operate weapons to combat enemies on the far side of the globe. The competitive aspect is still there - among companies, and with other countries (China, Russia). Another competitor is NASA, but our pro-capitalist government will almost certainly cede our Space efforts to private enterprise; leaving just two major competitors domestically - Blue Origin and SpaceX. To maintain token competition in our space industrial base, one company will probably get the lead on moonshots and the other on a new constellation of Internet satellites. That venture, too, is fraught with risk.

With Stephen Bannon's advocacy, these types of space missions will probably be pursued under Trump. In a past life, Bannon headed the Biosphere 2 project in Arizona which demonstrated how a small group could be sustained in a created ecological environment without external provisions. More development of this type of system would lead to deploying them in space. More recently, at Breitbart News, Bannon's momentarily famous underling, Milo Yiannopoulos, put out a call for an audacious space program.

Too bad all that additional budget proposed for defense wasn't put into the NASA line instead. Along with diverting money from warfighting, it could save the Earth Science Division. How about it Congress? Or are we just going with Plan B?

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