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How Crony Capitalism is Undermining the Space Program

1:27 PM, Nov 14, 2011 • By RAND SIMBERG
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Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of all this is that such a vehicle isn’t even needed for space exploration. A couple weeks ago, the NASA Watch web site published a leaked internal agency document that showed that missions using existing launch vehicles (such as the United Launch Alliance Atlas and Delta, or SpaceX Falcon) to deliver propellant and other exploration hardware to orbit could not only save tens of billions over those that used a heavy-lift vehicle, but could get humans beyond earth orbit years sooner, while providing a robust market that would drive down launch costs for everyone, not just NASA. Rep. Rohrabacher had been demanding this rumored document from the agency for weeks, to no avail.

Recently, China demonstrated its first docking, a hint of a more cost-effective means of space travel. But, even as other nations race ahead, it’s clear that expanding humanity into space is not a priority for this Congress. Until it is, maintaining actual space leadership will always take back seat to faux leadership and high-tech corporate welfare.

Rand Simberg is a recovering aerospace engineer and a consultant in space commercialization, space tourism and Internet security. He is the author of the weblog Transterrestrial Musings, and is an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

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