DownsizeDC.org
August 10, 2005
Government failure: $1 billion expenditure fails to keep foam attached
By Perry Willis

I believe space exploration and colonization is vital to human progress. But do we really need NASA to accomplish it?

Famed science fiction writer and techno-guru Jerry Pournelle isn't too impressed with either NASA or the Space Shuttle. He writes:

“NASA spends a billion and can't fix the problem of foam drop-off. Give me a billion and 3 years (and exemption from the Disabilities Act and some other imbecilic restrictions) and I'll have a 700,000 pound GLOW reusable that will put at least 5,000 pounds in orbit per trip, and be able to make 10 trips a year for marginal costs linearly related to the cost of fuel. Give me $3 billion and I'll have a fleet of the damn things. Once they're flying we can work on getting the payload weights up. Give me $5 billion and I'll have the fleet plus one that's set up to go Earth orbit to Lunar Surface and return to Earth orbit as often as we like (each trip costing about 10 flights Earth to Earth orbit to refuel it). Costing: 700,000 pounds of fuel at $2 per pound times 4 as a guess. Throw in other stuff and the marginal costs are maybe $10 million a flight Earth to Earth orbit, so about $100 million to go back to the Moon.”

Mr. Pournelle is undoubtedly correct, especially if he hired Burt Rutan of SpaceShipOne fame to do the work for him.

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