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A modest proposal - Space4Commerce by Brian Dunbar — LiveJournal
March 24th, 2007
10:14 pm

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A modest proposal

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From:baikonur
Date:March 25th, 2007 04:27 am (UTC)
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I want to see a permanent presence on the moon too, but I'm not sure this is such a great idea. Doesn't there need to be an economic/policy incentive beyond the prize to justify this? I mean, the X-prize was laudable because it was a private effort and private funds were on the line. Other than the bragging rights, what is at the moon that is worth the government spending $20 billion? Couldn't the prize be a $20 billion contract to continue operating a moonbase and related infrastructure for government use, or maintenance of the infrastructure with common carrier status, or some other type of arrangement in which taxpayers are actually receiving some value for their money?

The problem with a prize like this is that it doesn't prove that a private enterprise can 'do' the moon- in fact it proves just the opposite. A private enterprise shouldn't have to rely on government subsidies to justify its existence. Much of the existing aerospace industry operates in exactly this way already- Lockheed and Boeing, to put it tamely, rely on government contracts. The 'new space' scene seems to want to set itself apart from this sort of business model, which is why I'm surprised to see this proposal.
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From:bdunbar
Date:March 25th, 2007 05:35 am (UTC)
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The 'new space' scene seems to want to set itself apart from this sort of business model, which is why I'm surprised to see this proposal

This is just me speaking - this is not from my employer in any way shape or form.

I don't know new or alt.space from old or standard.space. Dividing stuff up that way seems a little artificial and weird. As if you can change economics or rocket science by wishing really hard that it was so.

I have no little sympathy for the guys that tag themselves 'new space' (or alt.space or whatever) and I wish them well - but I don't see myself and I don't see LiftPort in any particular category except 'transportation'.


Other than the bragging rights, what is at the moon that is worth the government spending $20 billion?

We're heading there now - someone put a bug in the President's ear and lo we ave VSE. I'm pretty certain that the effort to get a short squad of astronauts on the moon for a few weeks at a time is going to top $20 billion.

We've determined that the moon is in the national interest - this is a cheap way to see that done.


A private enterprise shouldn't have to rely on government subsidies to justify its existence.

Shouldn't have to, no. This isn't justifying anyone's existence so much as providing incentives to get something done.

I'm no poli-sci major - just a dumb grunt from Wisconsin. But it seems to me that defining goals and providing incentives to citizenry to make them happen is a valid function of the State.

Look - assume this is done and the prize is awarded. A company - possibly a consortium including sub-contractors from outside the United States - will have kept 31 people on the moon for 1096 days. This implies that they now have experience and technology with space habitats, resupply, infrastructure .. thousands of people at a minimum have gotten a crash-course in those areas and practical knowledge of how to do X, Y and Z.

I suspect that knowledge would return much greater than $20 billion to the treasury in taxable revenue from spin-off.

That's the economic incentive; not just for a moon base ( we've defined that in the legislation and in VSE as being in the national interest ) but for the skills and technology from spin-off that will generate wealth.
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