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  c|net: Do we need NASA?

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Author Topic:   c|net: Do we need NASA?

Posts: 530
Registered: Aug 2006

posted 10-03-2007 08:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jimsz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An article posted on c|net today
Do we need NASA?
The birth of modern aviation probably lies in Charles Lindbergh's 1927 flight across the Atlantic, which won him a $25,000 prize and a ticker-tape parade down New York's Fifth Avenue.

By showing the world to be just a little smaller than before, Lindbergh fathered the 20th century's transportation revolution. The airship named after German entrepreneur Ferdinand von Zeppelin took its maiden flight the next year, and by the early 1930s both Boeing and Douglas were selling passenger planes to fledgling airlines including TWA, United and American. Not long afterward, the famous Douglas DC-3 made transcontinental flights practical.

Compare the rapid progress in aviation with America's experience in space travel. Fifty years after Sputnik 1's launch in October 1957, mankind has set foot on precisely one other world (a moon, at that), the space shuttle has at best a 1-in-50 chance of disaster upon each launch, and a completed space station is still a few years out. Since the last moon landing 35 years ago, in fact, mankind has not ventured beyond low Earth orbit again.

The difference? Critics say it's the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


Posts: 4046
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 10-03-2007 09:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The eternal debate...
You may not need NASA but you need the Government with its huge and deep pockets to finance orbit. No single private company has the means to achieve orbital speed. Space tourism (at least for now) is limited to bell-shaped joyrides la Alan Shepard or it relies on government funded rockets (see the Garriott story). And comparing aviation to space is misleading. Furthermore Boeing's thrive in aviation was also for a large part due to government contracts (B707, military planes etc). And access to space has been military-driven from day one (ICBM). Again only Government has the money. Furthermore, all private companies developing launchers are seeking government contracts to finance the huge development costs. Space is not commercially sustainable (Arianespace barely makes a buck; Delta and Atlas have merged). So for now, the taxpayers money is still being needed. May not be the case forever. But when it comes to exploration, no private company will finance it as there's nothing to gain.


E2M Lem Man

Posts: 793
From: Los Angeles CA. USA
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 10-03-2007 02:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E2M Lem Man     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A very old debate, indeed!

Many of my colleagues disagree with me but I feel we do.

NASA and the NACA before it were supposed to be looking at the cutting edge technologies that the commercial companies hadn't looked at. Fuels, propulsion, materials, and the like. NASA should also represent the national space programs that foreign nations and the commercial companies will then follow up on when it is viable.

That is it in a nutshell.


Posts: 2488
From: Titusville, FL USA
Registered: Feb 2005

posted 10-03-2007 02:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You darn right we need NASA. I love how people say NASA hasn't done this or that yet when the Apollo Program was cut short, where was the outcry. When in 1972 the Shuttle Budget was reduced to acheive compromise (no manned booster) did the public even notice.

The article jimsz posted to begin this thread contained factual information but the private sector hasn't seen the profitability to even think about putting spacecraft into orbit until very recently. The reason is it's hard and expensive to do.

NASA isn't perfect (no government agency is) but I would be very willing to pay more in taxes if it would increase the NASA budget because of the return on our investment.

Hopefully 50 years from now this arguement will seem ridiculous but for now my money (literally) is on NASA.


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