Many space activists refuse to face the unpleasant truth, but an overwhelming majority of voters have demonstrated over and over again that they prefer tax cuts to space spending.
It couldn't matter less to that huge majority of voters whether NASA builds the hardware - or buys the hardware or services commercially - or gives out prizes. They don't care whether they go for a big booster or fuel depots, They don't care whether the goal is the Moon or Mars or asteroids. They only care about the money.
They may like space but they no longer want their taxes to pay for it! This is a democracy, so, sooner or later, the government had to listen to that majority of voters, no matter what we space activists want.
That means the era of massive government space programs is over - a dead man walking!
Of course, no politician wants to be the messenger who has tell that bad news to the aerospace workers and aging minority of passionate space lovers, so they have to kill space spending a little at a time while pretending they're trying to save it.
The Bushes proposed grand visions they couldn't fund, leaving their successors to be the ones who had to actually say we can't afford them. But cutting space spending has been going on since LBJ and Nixon cut the Apollo program and the planned moon base to pay for Vietnam "guns and butter".
It's easier to kill a new program, that doesn't yet have much of a constituency, than an old program that is vigorously supported by a bloated army of workers, vendors, etc. who have been living off it for years.
Space programs like the shuttle get cut with the pretense that the money will be re-purposed to new space programs like Constellation, but then, a year or so later, the new programs can be easily dropped with little notice so the money can be used to cover tax cuts.
Still, space activists pretend that the problem is NASA's fault, and this reform, or that one, will solve everything. "Spend the money we have better" works only if you really have the money. But in this case, the money is on the way out the door and won't be there long enough to spend smarter. Any re-purposing of spending just makes it easier to cut.
John Glenn made the case to President Obama for continuing the shuttle flights until we had a replacement. "The president didn't disagree with any of my arguments," Glenn told the NY Times, "He said we just don't have the money."
Now, even robotic missions and commercial crew are being cut.
The terrible reaction Newt Gingrich got when he proposed a more efficient - but still taxpayer funded - moon base is yet more proof that the era of big government space programs is ending.
The only solution is to come up with a way to pay for space that doesn't depend on government money: for-profit free enterprise whose customer is not the US government.
The same way we happily paid for the computer revolution.
Note: The first 25 FAQs below are reprinted from the Space Settlement Initiative website.
The FAQs above cover basic questions about Lunar Land Claims Recognition. The following questions address more advanced issues.
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