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Government's role in space

Posted by: SuperShuki - Thu Jan 14, 2010 6:44 pm
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Government's role in space 
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Post Government's role in space   Posted on: Thu Jan 14, 2010 6:44 pm
What should government's role in space be (any government)? I have come to the belief that NASA and other government agencies are a waste of money and should be junked. If it's worthwhile, the people in the private sector can do it. If the private sector isn't going to do it, money shouldn't be taken from everyone else's pockets to fund what is essentially a hobby.
That doesn't mean that I'm against space. The satellite industry will still need rockets, which means that the price of getting to space will eventually go down. As the price goes down, other uses of space will become profitable, and so on.
The only reason I see for a government to spend money on space is a national interest.

So the big question for me is, what is the national interest in funding space exploration?

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Post Re: Government's role in space   Posted on: Fri Jan 15, 2010 7:07 am
Basic Science. Something governments have invested in with great return for centuries.

In Tech returns, Nasa returns about 6 times what is spent on it.

Nasa should not be doing 'routine space travel' but tech development.

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Post Re: Government's role in space   Posted on: Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:01 am
idiom wrote:
Basic Science. Something governments have invested in with great return for centuries.

In Tech returns, Nasa returns about 6 times what is spent on it.

Nasa should not be doing 'routine space travel' but tech development.


What do you mean by a "great return"? If it is such a great return, why won't private industry do it?

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Post Re: Government's role in space   Posted on: Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:28 am
SuperShuki wrote:
idiom wrote:
Basic Science. Something governments have invested in with great return for centuries.

In Tech returns, Nasa returns about 6 times what is spent on it.

Nasa should not be doing 'routine space travel' but tech development.


What do you mean by a "great return"? If it is such a great return, why won't private industry do it?


Because the initial investment costs are so high, and the time to profit so long. Very few companies would want to risk the sort of money required to do what NASA does. Generally, companies plans are all very short term to keep shareholders happy - everyone wants a return asap, which space stuff doesn't give you. And note that even the ones that are doing space stuff (SpaceX, Blue Origin, Bigelow etc) are doing it because the owners are space nuts, not because they see some profit in the near future.


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Post Re: Government's role in space   Posted on: Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:36 am
This is exactly what I am against. Spending billions upon billions on something with no profit. It's a waste of taxpayer dollars. The less money government spends, the more money there will be for hobbyists such as spacex and others to bring down to-orbit costs, which is the real problem with space right now.

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Post Re: Government's role in space   Posted on: Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:51 pm
Governments spending billions of dollars on space exploration is not a waste of tax payers money. It is a long term investment in an industry that never would've existed if not for exactly this. There are no private companies that would be willing to do this investment as a whole. Imagine the time it would've taken to earn back the money you'd spent?

In addition to this, portioning out contracts gives the opportunity for space based private companies to actually make money. It also drives the technology and private companies make use of discoveries made by government funded researches all over the globe. Satellite Communication without government spending loads of money on researching launch capability? Think not.

All in all, it create jobs, and jobs is something you want in an economy. Chances are, that there wouldn't be as much tax dollars to spend if it hadn't been for the way NASA is working. Or it'd be used on wars, which is even worse use of the taxpayers dollars in the end.


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Post Re: Government's role in space   Posted on: Fri Jan 15, 2010 1:12 pm
First of all Israel doesn't have a space agency, so I don't understand why you're complaining about how tax dollars are spent in other countries.

Private industry spends money on research and development so that they can apply for patents and get a temporary monopoly on a certain rug/material/widget. Lets suppose that 1000 US corporations spend $1B each annually on such research. $1B doesn't buy an extraordinary amount of new developments, but progress ticks along and new discoveries are made which result in a certain amount of profit. The difference when a government space agency does space research is that the findings are part of a national or international effort and the knowledge gained is shared amongst everyone involved. The total cost of running NASA is roughly $30 per citizen of the US annually. If a massive corporation like GE tried to perform that research privately it would cost roughly $30,000 per employee, on top of all the other expenses that GE incurs running it's business.

Government space research makes sense to me. If you don't get it, it's because you have a different world view than me. If you can't change things that make you unhappy, I suggest you go live in a country that spends its taxes on stuff you agree with.

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Post Re: Government's role in space   Posted on: Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:47 pm
SuperShuki, take a look at this, and then tell me again.. if it makes sense:
http://www.sti.nasa.gov/tto/Spinoff2009 ... ff2009.pdf

Or take a look at this:
http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/nasacity/index2.htm

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Post Re: Government's role in space   Posted on: Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:44 pm
Most of the modern aviation industry was built by Nasa (then NACA) or its equivalents in other countries.

Scaled, Bigelow and Space X all rely on technology developed by Nasa.

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Post Re: Government's role in space   Posted on: Sat Jan 16, 2010 6:10 pm
johno wrote:
First of all Israel doesn't have a space agency, so I don't understand why you're complaining about how tax dollars are spent in other countries.

Government space research makes sense to me. If you don't get it, it's because you have a different world view than me. If you can't change things that make you unhappy, I suggest you go live in a country that spends its taxes on stuff you agree with.

johno


Yes, we do seem to have fundamentally differing world views. I believe in the innate moral value of freedom. When a government forcibly takes money from people (taxes people) in order to do things that are not in the national self interest, I call it stealing. And I am against stealing no matter which government does it.

The wonderful thing about the private space industry is that it is private. All the money spent is done through the free will of the givers, not forcibly taken.

The "spinoff" argument, that government space agencies pay for themselves by their technological by products, shows how ridiculous the position is. If you want technology, you obviously get more payoffs by investing directly in technology! The free market is far better at making technology than socialist systems such as government agencies.

$30 a taxpayer, times 300 million taxpayers, is 9 trillion dollars! How much could be done if that was in the free market?!

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Post Re: Government's role in space   Posted on: Sat Jan 16, 2010 10:35 pm
Many private companies work with universities and government agencies (such as NASA, DARPA, etc). If all this work had to be done in private companies, then you'll see what the impact really is.. it's tremendous. Even CPU's (as used quite often as the example of the private industry) wouldn't be as good as it's now, universities and government [paid] research is extremely important.

Some people claim THE "solution" is the private industry... but don't forget that without government regulations (anti monopolies etc), guidance, research etc, the private market will often result in fewer options as a consumer, mass products instead of diversity, safety concerns (who's going to pay the research for safety usually done in universities?), weather prediction (without government support, no private company could have paid for such good weather predictions), GPS Network, etc...

It's easy to be against things as nothing is perfect. Making things better is difficult and even something better won't be perfect. So it's all about a healthy balance between government and the private industry.

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Post Re: Government's role in space   Posted on: Sun Jan 17, 2010 12:39 am
SuperShuki, I am sure you can explain why Somalia, which has no oppressive government at all, is for some strange reason not the international leader in space, or technology, or in fact anything.

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Post Re: Government's role in space   Posted on: Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:43 am
We will never know what greater good would have come out of the money that was spent by government, being in the private sector. But I am suprised that no one is defending space spending as a goal in and of itself. For example, space exploration for national pride.
Government is inefficient, by its nature. This is because there is no profit motive. GPS, weather satellites, and all the rest can be done more efficiently by profit seeking entities.
As to monopolies, the biggest monopolies are governments! They have no competition! They can do anything that they want without worrying about the consequences, as opposed to the free market, where every business runs the constant risk of making less money.

Somalia: Freedom is necessary for a healthy society, but it is not enough by itself.

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Post Re: Government's role in space   Posted on: Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:55 am
Government is entirely made up of profit motive. It is made up of humans and humans are profit seeking. It is in-efficient because it has so many stakeholders. The Sum of its profit seeking behaviour is simple different from what you value.

Governments also have plenty of competition. Most of the space industry was set up as a massive PR war between competing governments.

There *nothing* stopping a group of billionaires and engineers from upping stakes and moving to Somalia and starting space companies. Except a lack of profit motive.

If people could see new ways to make money in space, especially in a tax free environment, then they would persue them.

You can't make a business plan work through sheer will power. Eventually you have to back it up with real world math and profit.

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Post Re: Government's role in space   Posted on: Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:21 am
idiom wrote:
Government is entirely made up of profit motive. It is made up of humans and humans are profit seeking. It is in-efficient because it has so many stakeholders. The Sum of its profit seeking behaviour is simple different from what you value.

Governments also have plenty of competition. Most of the space industry was set up as a massive PR war between competing governments.

There *nothing* stopping a group of billionaires and engineers from upping stakes and moving to Somalia and starting space companies. Except a lack of profit motive.

If people could see new ways to make money in space, especially in a tax free environment, then they would persue them.

You can't make a business plan work through sheer will power. Eventually you have to back it up with real world math and profit.


The goal of government is not to turn a profit. Therefore it is not profit seeking.
Yes, there is competition between governments. And PR is a reasonable reason for space exploration, in my view. But no one here is saying that the point of space exploration is PR!
Governments have a monopoly on space. It is impossible to compete with a government because they give away their 'services' for free, being able to fund themselves by force (taxes). If government was not funding gps, and it was worth doing, then private companies would be able to do it.

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