Over on Jeff’s SpacePolitics site, there is a discussion going on right now about a recent poll on the relevance of space. While much of the discussion was interesting as usual, I particularly liked the point made by a fellow 20-something by the name of James:
Those who support the current lunar program often forget the opportunity costs. There are better ways to spend the same money on developing space. Iâ€™m 24 – with the current Constellation program plan, Iâ€™ll be in my mid 30s by the time we get back to the moon. If we operate the system for a decade or two after that, as is likely, all I can expect in my career is to see 4 people land on the moon twice a year. That is not exciting – nor is it worth the money. Maybe by the time I retire weâ€™ll be looking at another â€œnext generation systemâ€.
Whatâ€™s the point of any of this for someone my age?
Two of the replies to his question more or less missed what I saw as the key point, and instead mostly fixated on the question at the end–taking it as a sign of greed, self-centeredness, shortsightedness, etc. Personally, I don’t think for a second that James was being whiny or impatient or ADD (as our generation is often accused of). I think he’s asking a very valid and timely question.
While I know it’s somewhat vain to quote oneself, I think the point I made there bears repeating:
If our current approach to space development was actually putting in place the technology and infrastructure needed to make our civilization a spacefaring one, Iâ€™d be a lot more willing to support it. Wise investments in the future are a good thing, but NASAâ€™s current approach is not a wise investment in the future. Itâ€™s aging hipsters trying to relive the glory days of their youth at my generationâ€™s expense.
Patience is only a virtue when youâ€™re headed in the right direction and doing the right thing. If Constellation was truly (as Marburger put it) making future operations cheaper, safer, and more capable, then Iâ€™d be all for patiently seeing it out.
While Constellation might possibly put some people on the moon, it wonâ€™t actually put us any closer to routine, affordable, and sustainable exploration and development. I have no problem with a long hard road, just so long as its the right one.
As I discussed in my previous post on John Marburger’s speech, I discussed this important point. It’s not good enough for NASA to just be doing stuff in space. Sending people to the Moon in a way that doesn’t “reduce the cost or risk of future operations” isn’t a very responsible way of spending tax dollars that are going to be paid in large part by James and my generation.
Latest posts by Jonathan Goff (see all)
- Unorthodox Reusable Lunar Landers Concepts - June 12, 2021
- Goff Family 2021 Summer Sabbatical Part 1: Utah Trip - June 1, 2021
- Transitions and Summer Sabbatical - May 31, 2021