One of Obama’s Successes was Bringing Capitalism into Outer Space. Trump Should Follow his Lead

blue-origin-rocket

Space Age comeback?

Glenn Reynolds writes: Space entrepreneur Peter Bigelow, who’s working on hotels in space, wants the Trump Administration to sharply increase NASA spending. But although I’m all in favor of making America’s space program great again, I’m not so sure that pumping money into NASA is the way to do it. For that matter, I’m not even sure that the term “space program” makes much sense in the 21st century.

Image: vintagefuture.tumblr.com

Rather than a space program, what we really have is a package of space policies. Unlike the Apollo era, when the nation was fixed on a single major goal of landing men on the Moon before 1970, we now want a bunch of different things, all of them important, but no single one of them is our sole focus. And, honestly, much of what’s going on at NASA isn’t even close to overridingly important.

[Read the full story here, at USAToday]

The good news is that, as I’ve noted before, space — at least the burgeoning commercial space industry — has been one of the Obama Administration’s notable policy successes.  Where not long ago the United States was looking at an aging fleet of increasingly dangerous space shuttles, we now have a flourishing collection of private companies providing transportation into earth orbit, from SpaceX, to Blue Origin, to Virgin Galactic, to a number of smaller companies. (Full disclosure: I own a small amount of friends-and-family stock in one of those smaller companies, XCOR Aerospace). Moon Express even plans to land a robot on the Moon.

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As a recent piece in The Washington Post noted, whatever his policies on Earth, Obama has brought capitalism to outer space. Some of this has been because NASA has started purchasing services from private companies instead of launching things itself, jumpstarting the space industry the way the old Post Office Air Mail subsidies did for commercial aviation in the 1920s. (Robert Merges and I wrote an article recommending this approach some years ago, and it’s nice to see the approach working as we’d hoped).

Obama’s even signed a bill legalizing asteroid mining, in much the fashion I advocated back in the 1990s.

So lesson one for a Trump space policy is: First, do no harm…(read more)

Source: USAToday



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