Blue Vs. White: It’s time to leave NASA behind
Published: Friday, October 19, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 19, 2012 00:10
The idea of exploring the unknown has always been imagined, but in the past century, mankind was able to turn this vision into a reality. However, this great achievement was no easy task, as it required the integration of complex concepts from a wide array of different disciplines.
Space exploration was the abyss of scientific research, as researchers had no practical method of investigating the universe other than looking through telescopes. Nonetheless, during the 20th century, the United States government developed the first space program. And this milestone in world history can be attributed to a single government agency, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
However, during the past decade, funding for NASA has decreased significantly as America struggles to recuperate with its ballooning budget deficit. The idea of ceasing funds toward NASA and pushing space travel toward privatization has caused social uproar, as many claim it to be a blow to national pride and unpatriotic. But privatization could be a giant leap for the space program. The concept of privatization is the act of changing a program from state to private ownership.
Privatization of the space program provides the capacity for further economic growth and employment opportunities, saving millions of dollars and stimulating scientific advancement in space exploration.
By cutting back government funds to NASA, Washington can allocate taxpayer dollars to more necessary government programs like Medicare, social security and more. In addition, by allowing the private sector to reduce space costs, America can send astronauts to space for less money, saving millions. Also, as the Russian government does now, these private American companies can retail seats onboard their spacecraft to astronauts from other countries, bringing in additional revenue.
The grandest of mankind’s technological advancements, space exploration, requires the type of ingenuity that is established when the mind is let loose from any restrictions. Yet, through government funding, we place these minds under the hands of governmental whims, limiting the advancements of scientific knowledge on the premise of basic knowledge. By integrating innovation through privately owned companies, technical advancements in space exploration is applicably stimulated.
After reaching its fullest potential, U.S.-funded programs are normally pushed toward commercialization in order to expand economic growth. Such is the case with air travel, the World Wide Web and telecommunication. And now the time has come for the space program to be handed over to the private sector.
NASA’s space shuttle program, while responsible for sending the American nation into the space age, has become exceedingly costly and inefficient. This can be seen through the White house’s proposal to end the Constellation program, NASA’s next mission to the moon, due to the program’s budget deficit and being behind schedule. Thus, the time has come for the excessive costs generated by the space program to be maintained more efficiently by the private sector, where competition and profit incentives can promote further innovation.
NASA has already hired four privately owned firms: SpaceX, Sierra Nevada, Blue Origin and Boeing, all of which, according to William Gerstenmaier, director of human exploration and operations at NASA, are expected to reduce costs involving space exploration. Reducing the costs involving space travel brings a rise to a new market, space tourism, which will then increase capital flow within the economy. In addition, creating the infrastructure needed for space travel through competition allows the opportunity for economic and job growth. Also, athough NASA partially funds these companies, a majority of the funds procured to sustain these privately owned firms originate from its shareholders.
Adversaries of the privatization of space exploration argue that NASA is currently a Research and Development (R&D) firm, a necessity for economic growth. However by privatizing this market, there is no set limit on the number of R&D firms that can be established. Sierra Nevada, Space X and Blue Origin, all R&D firms, have been established on the premise of the privatization of the voyage to space. Hence, privatizing space exploration does not hinder the state of economy but instead promotes its growth.
The denationalization of the space program will not only benefit the overall advancements of scientific knowledge, but it will have a direct impact to society. A majority of our nation does not understand exactly what NASA does beyond sending astronauts into space. Thus, to spend taxpayer dollars on programs that have no direct effect on society is illogical. Instead, by privatizing and deregulating the interstellar market, capital can be accrued by this expansion, and taxpayer dollars can be allocated to more beneficial programs, hence having a direct favorable impact to society, especially in current economic conditions.