Earmarks hypocrisy

I find it deeply amusing seeing how some people who support the ESAS approach to returning to the Moon tend to get so hopping mad over congressional earmarks. The logic goes that all of these earmarks set aside for pet projects of various congresscritters takes money away from real space exploration and real space science.

I guess I actually agree with that logic. Earmarks for the most part are a bunch of wasteful pork projects that do nothing to aid in the actual exploration and development of space. The problem is that most of the ESAS implementation so far has been little better than overglorified earmarks. What else can you call it when NASA refuses to get out of the Earth-to-Orbit transportation business, and instead gives billions of dollars to ATK and the likes to build a launch vehicle based on an oversized bottle rocket? Even hardcore supporters of the current ESAS approach have had to fall back to arguments about the “political realities” of why we need to blow several billion developing Shuttle Derived vehicles. That my friend is an earmark. A political giveaway to congresscritters whose votes are important to getting NASA funding that really have nothing to do with creating a sustainable off-world economy that helps foster the exploration and settlement of space.

Then there’s this whole garbage about pulling most of the RLEP program over to MSFC. It’s so obvious that this was entirely politically motivated, and had nothing to do with the actual succesful implementation of the program. It’s little more than yet another earmark for Alabama.

In both cases, NASA had much more cost effective alternatives, that would have actually been much more effective at accomplishing their actual goals, but they chose the route of political least resistance.

So, when I hear people moaning about earmarks on one hand, but on the other loudly championing big, wasteful, NASA-run projects whose sole purpose is to spread pork in various congressional districts (ie to meet “political realities”), I have a hard time taking them very seriously.

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Jonathan Goff

Jonathan Goff

President/CEO at Altius Space Machines
Jonathan Goff is a space technologist, inventor, and serial space entrepreneur who created the Selenian Boondocks blog. Jon was a co-founder of Masten Space Systems, and is the founder and CEO of Altius Space Machines, a space robotics startup in Broomfield, CO. His family includes his wife, Tiffany, and five boys: Jarom (deceased), Jonathan, James, Peter, and Andrew. Jon has a BS in Manufacturing Engineering (1999) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (2007) from Brigham Young University, and served an LDS proselytizing mission in Olongapo, Philippines from 2000-2002.
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3 Responses to Earmarks hypocrisy

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Jon, I had a chat this evening with a famous NASA astronaut who has a fancy degree from a name school.

    He thinks the only hope for cheap space transportation is for NASA to implode.

    Best regards, Lee

  2. Big D says:

    The difference is that earmarks are placed into spending bills without a vote and often with little or no publicity.

    NASA, otoh, gets its budget voted on. It may be filled with pork, but it’s not technically quite the same thing.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Was this astronaut also in a major motion picture?


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