Sunday, September 18, 2011

Let’s Argue About The Right Things

Paul D. Spudis

  • “debate” has focused on either or both of two points: what rocket to build and where to go, and not on sustainability
  •  the real debate is not about launch vehicles or spacecraft or even destinations; it is about the long-term – the paradigm or template of space operations
  • debate about what to build, where to go and how to do it must be formulated towards attainment of Mars
  • If our goal is to “sail on the ocean of space,” we need a navy. 
  • Reliable and frequent access to the entire Solar System, not one or two destinations, should be our ultimate goal
  • We have been arguing about the wrong things.
  • A cost-effective, sustainable human spaceflight program must be incremental and cumulative

We should concentrate first upon cost effective means to LEO before we do anything else.  The way towards that near term goal would be to make a fully reusable launch system with a fast turnaround time.  This is what Jeff Greason and Elon Musk have as goals.  Musk says fast turnaround time is the "holy grail".  Why isn't this national space policy?  The government, for its part, seems to have given up on the project.  Progress was made with the Shuttle program, but reusability doesn't appear to be the goal anymore.  The goal now seems to be relegated only to the reuse the components that made up the Shuttle.  The goal should be more ambitious than that.

Flags and footprints are for ego trippers.  Affordable access to space is for the money grippers.  (That's co opting a phrase from Winning Through Intimidation, a book by Robert Ringer.)

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