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Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight

Posted by: Troubadour - Tue May 08, 2012 9:44 am
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Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight 
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Post Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Tue May 08, 2012 9:44 am
So I've been busy synthesizing more data for my blog, this time about private manned spaceflight (and related services) and robotic explanation, and thought I'd share some more of the charts here since people seemed to appreciate my earlier data thread about public manned spaceflight.

Price of Space Adventures tickets to orbit:

Image

Space Adventures orbital flight rate:

Image

Zero-G parabolic flight prices per seat*:

Image

*I've had to rely on date-limited Google searches for this data because Zero-G hasn't responded to my inquiries.

Number of private manned spacecraft in flight:

Image

Pretty pathetic, right? For all the hope and hype they've engendered, the private sector really hasn't done a damn thing yet - their prices go UP, not down, and neither their volume nor capabilities ever seem to increase. I have hope they'll eventually get their act together, but it's taking way too long, and my doubts grow that we're on the right path.

Next, robotic space exploration - absolute number of missions since the beginning:

Image

Running average number of missions (per five-year period):

Image

Numbers of just the planetary science probes (excludes astronomy and solar observatories):

Image

Breakdown of probe missions by objective:

Image

The above charts pretty strongly demonstrate the virtual collapse of political commitment to robotic space exploration, with an ongoing trend of decline that seems to have no bottom.

I explain the charts in more detail at the FAQ & Statistics page of my blog. I hope you find them in some way useful or enlightening. Personally, I'm not content just to note that these negative things are happening - I really think we can do something about it, if only humbly at first.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Tue May 08, 2012 6:39 pm
There isn't private spaceflight yet - it's in its infancy. The only paying passengers to space took a ride on government funded rockets.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Tue May 08, 2012 6:46 pm
Operational robotic probes would be a much more valid metric than attempted, if you're trying to make the case that robotic exploration is waning. The Soviet Union made a huge number of Mars mission attempts early on, and none of them were completely successful. While it may have some engineering value, a mission that doesn't work is of no scientific value.

In comparison, we currently have multiple active missions for the sun, Mars, beyond the solar system, and the moon, and single active missions for the asteroid belt, Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, and Pluto. And those are just the ones from the US that I can think of off the top of my head.

It'd also be a valid use of a line chart, whereas most of yours are not.


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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Tue May 08, 2012 8:32 pm
SuperShuki wrote:
There isn't private spaceflight yet - it's in its infancy. The only paying passengers to space took a ride on government funded rockets.


That's sort of the point. We're half a century into manned spaceflight and there have been very rich, very skilled businesses surrounding the endeavor the whole time, but private spaceflight is "in its infancy" and has been ever since the first private company bought a rocket launch decades ago.

Ben wrote:
Operational robotic probes would be a much more valid metric than attempted, if you're trying to make the case that robotic exploration is waning.


The case is that commitment to robotic exploration is waning.

Ben wrote:
In comparison, we currently have multiple active missions for the sun, Mars, beyond the solar system, and the moon, and single active missions for the asteroid belt, Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, and Pluto. And those are just the ones from the US that I can think of off the top of my head.


Do you find it impressive that HALF A CENTURY after we began we have about one probe for each of six planets (and a few rovers on Mars, yay!), two unexplored in decades, and a couple of asteroids and a dwarf planet being visited? Are you content with this - one probe to a planet every decade or so, and maybe a Mars lander here and there? I've shown the trending, and it doesn't look good once the current crop start failing or are retired. Unless you want your children fawning over half as many probes to half as many destinations and calling it progress, you may want to raise your standards just a little.

Ben wrote:
It'd also be a valid use of a line chart, whereas most of yours are not.


Uh, excuse me? A line chart is a connection of discrete datapoints to show trending - exactly what my charts do. What you're talking about would be no more and no less valid. I think you have seriously misunderstood the charts you're looking at.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Tue May 08, 2012 8:53 pm
Line charts are used to represent continuous values. You mostly have discrete events, which you aggregate into time periods, and the appropriate chart in that case is a bar chart. It will still show your trends, but won't suggest that in between these time periods there are fractional missions.

I think there's another way of looking at these data, which is to consider the Space Race an anomaly created by a peculiar political situation. If you ignore everything up to 1980, then overall I'm not seeing much of a trend.

Finally, the price of a parabolic flight seems to me to be influenced by the worth of the dollar and the price of fuel. Did you compensate for inflation and oil price? If you didn't, then it's not a fair comparison.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Tue May 08, 2012 9:18 pm
Lourens wrote:
Line charts are used to represent continuous values.


No, line charts are used to show trending between discrete datapoints. Curves are used to represent continuous values.

Lourens wrote:
You mostly have discrete events, which you aggregate into time periods, and the appropriate chart in that case is a bar chart. It will still show your trends, but won't suggest that in between these time periods there are fractional missions.


The entire point is to show trends.

Lourens wrote:
I think there's another way of looking at these data, which is to consider the Space Race an anomaly created by a peculiar political situation.


I agree - that is one of my conclusions as well. However, there's no reason the resources and capabilities created by that situation couldn't have been reinvested to seek a more sustainable, cost-effective, and higher-volume path. That never happened.

Lourens wrote:
If you ignore everything up to 1980, then overall I'm not seeing much of a trend.


Many of the stats are even worse if you start at 1980. The number of humans sent to space would be nearing a point beneath where we began, the longest duration would already be at its nadir, and so would the carrying capacity of LEO. But we didn't start in 1980, we started in 1961 - and we shouldn't just ignore facts we find inconvenient.

Lourens wrote:
Finally, the price of a parabolic flight seems to me to be influenced by the worth of the dollar and the price of fuel. Did you compensate for inflation and oil price? If you didn't, then it's not a fair comparison.


Inflation from 2004 to 2012 has been about 21%, and the plane rides are two hours - so the price is not exactly heavy on fuel. That 21% of the 68% absolute price growth means that the real growth over the entire period was about 54% - significantly lower, but it doesn't change the overall picture. Thanks for pointing that out to me. I'll correct the figures.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Wed May 09, 2012 3:26 pm
Troubadour wrote:
Do you find it impressive that HALF A CENTURY after we began we have about one probe for each of six planets (and a few rovers on Mars, yay!), two unexplored in decades, and a couple of asteroids and a dwarf planet being visited? Are you content with this - one probe to a planet every decade or so, and maybe a Mars lander here and there? I've shown the trending, and it doesn't look good once the current crop start failing or are retired. Unless you want your children fawning over half as many probes to half as many destinations and calling it progress, you may want to raise your standards just a little.


It's pretty good considering the significant costs to develop, launch, and operate the missions for the very little practical return of scientific trivia and the intangible political and physiological good.

Despite the nitpicking, thanks for posting this. Very interesting.


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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Wed May 09, 2012 5:51 pm
First, I agree with James, thanks for doing the legwork and for posting this, it's a very interesting topic, and thanks for sharing it here.

I've been thinking about the graph type issue a bit and searched around for some advice (which I couldn't readily find), and I've changed my mind, I think the line graph is okay considering that the x-axis is an interval scale, and that it's clear what it means.

I suppose what I'm saying with respect to the 1960s being an anomaly is that I was born in the early 1980s, so I missed the whole technology-will-solve-all-our-problems-moonbases-flying-cars-Jetsons era. I grew up with the Space Shuttle. That programme has now ended, but there is still the ISS, SpaceX is getting there, and then there's Boeing/Bigelow, so in a few years we should be back to Shuttle level space flight. To me that feels like a continuous thing that is more or less staying at the same pace, not like a huge setback. Of course, it depends on your point of reference and your expectations, as you alluded to in your last post.

Is that ignoring inconvenient facts, or not comparing apples and oranges? Human space flight seems to me to be the kind of basic research that a government would do to advance our understanding of ourselves and of nature. For that you don't need a huge industry base, an outpost with some researchers is enough. During the Cold War, space briefly became a prestige project. Of course the underlying issue was that whoever can launch a person into space has developed a fairly reliable ICBM. The Americans lost that race and then had to go to the moon to make up for losing face, but after that crewed military space flight ended and civilian human space flight started. While they share technology, there's not much similarity politically so I'm not sure that we should lump the two together.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Wed May 09, 2012 10:58 pm
JamesG wrote:
It's pretty good considering the significant costs to develop, launch, and operate the missions for the very little practical return of scientific trivia and the intangible political and physiological good.


Well, that kind of feels like a rationalization for under-performance rather than a legitimate justification of the status quo. Of course any space exploration is better than none, given the fact that there's very little natural political constituency for it. But rationally speaking, the level of commitment to it is insanely low - and I do mean insanely. The Iraq War cost a trillion dollars - a trillion dollars for absolutely nothing, with no budget cuts ever interfering with it. The F-35 cost another trillion dollars and still doesn't work.

While I get that the military has a far stronger political position than space, it's a little insane to be spending 1000x as much on irrational military priorities than on even the most obviously important space priorities. It would be one thing if the public sector were as profligate in favor of constructive purposes as it's been in pursuing Acme weapons systems and insane policies, but it doubles down on the crazy by spending the max. on things that aren't helpful and the minimum on things that are maximally helpful. And while I don't delude myself that my opinion is influential, I still reject this state of affairs and want to work to change it.

JamesG wrote:
Despite the nitpicking, thanks for posting this. Very interesting.


I just figured it was about time I got serious about the subject, because I've spent many years on the sidelines just reading space blogs and passively hoping. Now's the time for people to get involved.

Lourens wrote:
First, I agree with James, thanks for doing the legwork and for posting this, it's a very interesting topic, and thanks for sharing it here.


Glad to be of some small service. :)

Lourens wrote:
I've been thinking about the graph type issue a bit and searched around for some advice (which I couldn't readily find), and I've changed my mind, I think the line graph is okay considering that the x-axis is an interval scale, and that it's clear what it means.


I had similar concerns myself at first, but line charts are the best option for showing trending. Bar charts can hint at it, but really the critical data is simply how one point relates to the next. I also looked at resolving down to a single-year scale, but the trends were a lot more obvious over five-year aggregate blocs.

Lourens wrote:
I suppose what I'm saying with respect to the 1960s being an anomaly is that I was born in the early 1980s, so I missed the whole technology-will-solve-all-our-problems-moonbases-flying-cars-Jetsons era. I grew up with the Space Shuttle. That programme has now ended, but there is still the ISS, SpaceX is getting there, and then there's Boeing/Bigelow, so in a few years we should be back to Shuttle level space flight. To me that feels like a continuous thing that is more or less staying at the same pace, not like a huge setback. Of course, it depends on your point of reference and your expectations, as you alluded to in your last post.


The ISS is an accomplishment, but the problem is that it's not an accomplishment designed to be built upon - the same problem with Apollo. It's in an orbital inclination designed to suit the needs of Russian launch vehicles, not to enable going BEO. It also has no centrifuge gravity capability, meaning it's useless for exploring long-term exposure to lunar or Martian gravity, and there are no plans to add it. There are also no plans to add more modules, and no plans (although the possibility exists) to add Bigelow inflatables. And while we can expect the operational lifetime will be extended beyond the current 2020 termination point, we don't know how far that commitment would go - just because it would be a pointless waste to ditch it doesn't mean they won't do it (they've done it several times before).

Now, that doesn't mean we can't build on it at enormous expense and trouble, but given history it doesn't seem politically likely. I have hopes for SpaceX and Bigelow, but my optimism is tempered by Hofstadter's Law: It takes longer than you expect, even when you take Hofstadter's Law into account. In other words, two years means ten, and ten means thirty. The things going on right now just are not enough to get us where we need to be. Not by a longshot. They're the tiniest sliver of a toehold, and a lot more is needed to build the future we seek. The first step to getting there is recognizing the inadequacy of the status quo, even with great companies like SpaceX in the picture. They're oases in the desert, but we're still in the desert, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Lourens wrote:
Human space flight seems to me to be the kind of basic research that a government would do to advance our understanding of ourselves and of nature. For that you don't need a huge industry base, an outpost with some researchers is enough. During the Cold War, space briefly became a prestige project. Of course the underlying issue was that whoever can launch a person into space has developed a fairly reliable ICBM. The Americans lost that race and then had to go to the moon to make up for losing face, but after that crewed military space flight ended and civilian human space flight started. While they share technology, there's not much similarity politically so I'm not sure that we should lump the two together.


I try to address both public and private spaceflight in the treatise that motivated this research, recognizing their unique properties. Unfortunately, I find they've both failed to grow due to different reasons, and also because their partnerships until recently have been based on combining their least productive and least innovative qualities rather than their best: The profit-seeking of the private sector with none of the price-competition, and the goal-directedness of public programs with no visionary leadership ensuring that accomplishments can be built upon indefinitely.

So there's been no short-term incentive on the part of business to lower costs (and as stock-driven companies, long-term incentives have no influence), and no incentive on the part of governments to take intelligent risks in space or design programs for the unlimited future. Companies soak up money like sponges to perform limited tasks based on purely academic or PR interests rather than growing an economy or a capability, and the public agency pays in order to basically deliver bread and circuses to scientists and space geeks rather than opening up space to mankind - and even that is proving politically unsustainable as Congress hacks-and-slashes the budget. Commercial contracting is something very new in space, very potent, and very endangered because of how enormous its potential is to deal with the business side of the problem.

I like the emergence of commercial space, but I still don't like the overall picture - I have doubts whether anything going on now is enough to overcome the collapse of political commitment.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Thu May 10, 2012 4:11 pm
Troubadour wrote:
SuperShuki wrote:
There isn't private spaceflight yet - it's in its infancy. The only paying passengers to space took a ride on government funded rockets.


That's sort of the point. We're half a century into manned spaceflight and there have been very rich, very skilled businesses surrounding the endeavor the whole time, but private spaceflight is "in its infancy" and has been ever since the first private company bought a rocket launch decades ago.


When government pays for the vast majority of the market (rocket flights), it is impossible to make a profit without involving government. Since government doesn't need to make a profit, it doesn't have to worry about cost, or quality to nearly the same level. That's why rocket's haven't come down in cost or gone up in quality: there was no reason for rocket companies to do lower the cost or increase quality, in order to make a profit. The free market hasn't even started yet: give it time to work its magic.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Thu May 10, 2012 7:54 pm
Hmmm. Planetary Resources look set to change your graph drastically, Troubadour, with their multitude of telescopes and probes.


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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Thu May 10, 2012 11:13 pm
SuperShuki wrote:
When government pays for the vast majority of the market (rocket flights), it is impossible to make a profit without involving government.


How does it follow that because the existing market for the existing, highly expensive vehicles is centered on the government, that Big Aerospace couldn't have been investing some of their profits all these decades in pursuing lower costs and broader markets? They very well could have and should have - they just chose not to.

SuperShuki wrote:
Since government doesn't need to make a profit, it doesn't have to worry about cost, or quality to nearly the same level. That's why rocket's haven't come down in cost or gone up in quality: there was no reason for rocket companies to do lower the cost or increase quality, in order to make a profit. The free market hasn't even started yet: give it time to work its magic.


The market started with the launch of Telstar 1 in 1962, and it's been working its "magic" ever since - preventing cost reductions because it's more profitable to keep costs high in an oligopolous industry. Markets are not magic, and not everything the "free" market does on its own is good. SpaceX's radically lower prices are not based on profit-maximizing points the way the "free" market commands - they could charge a lot more than they are and be even more profitable while still claiming substantial price reductions from ULA. The prices are based on Elon Musk's personal commitment to advancing the entire industry as a whole, which has nothing to do with the short-sighted dictates of markets. He is creating the market. And if Big Aerospace had been doing that since the beginning instead of blindly maximizing their quarterly profits like the "free" market says they should, we would be everywhere by now.

The point is that markets are simply a tool with specific needs and limitations, not a divine force that conjures good things out of the ether. If simply left to its own devices, it just runs down into entropy, with an ever-diminishing number of fat-cats sucking up the last ounce of value out of the work of previous generations while refusing to reward the ideas and innovations of the present. We see it across every capital-intensive industry: Automobiles, aviation, power plants, and so on. The government needs to be productively involved in promoting the right kind of business - the kind that creates new markets rather than merely trying to suck dry the ones that already exist. And business needs to invest more in market-creation rather than just market-consumption.

Terraformer wrote:
Hmmm. Planetary Resources look set to change your graph drastically, Troubadour, with their multitude of telescopes and probes.


I'm always heartened by announcements like Planetary Resources, but let's be realistic: Their time schedule at the very beginning, before they've launched a single bit of hardware or run into a single technical problem, runs into decades just to mine the first asteroid, let alone achieve profitability on space mining. Their multi-decade plan is a lot more credible than NASA's multi-decade plans, but we're still talking about an entire generation of effort with unknown hiccups and delays along the way probably extending the timeline substantially. And don't think just because these billionaires are committed now, before the real work has begun, that their commitment is necessarily open-ended or unconditional - or even that the money they're willing to invest will be enough. To say that declaring victory is premature would be the understatement of the century.

That said, I do see promise in their plan to commercialize their telescope fleets, so you may have a point. However, in the near-term we are still talking about simplified remote-sensing satellites in Earth orbit optimized for a very specific task - detecting small, dim objects - that is of very limited use for other solar system applications, although there may be some Earth-observation uses. Subsequent systems - Arkyds 200 and 300 - will be optimized for reaching near-Earth objects and characterizing small bodies that can be approached up close with minimal fuel needs, so I don't see them being especially useful for bodies of substantial mass, much greater distance from Earth, and that would have to be observed from much higher altitudes. Perhaps they could be commercialized as private lunar orbiters, and maybe sent to comets approaching Earth.

Then there's the simple matter of receiving the signals. The Deep Space Network is inadequate to handle any significant volume of traffic and already has to queue the various public-sector projects, so even if there was substantial demand for commercial probes, there would be a bottleneck in the ability to receive the signals. While Planetary Resources or some other company or consortium thereof might build its own DSN capability, I am not aware of any current plans to do so.

So basically, it's never as easy as you think, or as quick, or as obvious a pathway. A dozen space companies with the backing of Planetary Resources would just be the tiniest sliver of a beginning. One or two is...a hope. And that shouldn't be demoralizing - it should be motivating.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Fri May 11, 2012 10:30 am
Troubadour wrote:
SuperShuki wrote:
When government pays for the vast majority of the market (rocket flights), it is impossible to make a profit without involving government.


How does it follow that because the existing market for the existing, highly expensive vehicles is centered on the government, that Big Aerospace couldn't have been investing some of their profits all these decades in pursuing lower costs and broader markets? They very well could have and should have - they just chose not to.

SuperShuki wrote:
Since government doesn't need to make a profit, it doesn't have to worry about cost, or quality to nearly the same level. That's why rocket's haven't come down in cost or gone up in quality: there was no reason for rocket companies to do lower the cost or increase quality, in order to make a profit. The free market hasn't even started yet: give it time to work its magic.


The market started with the launch of Telstar 1 in 1962, and it's been working its "magic" ever since - preventing cost reductions because it's more profitable to keep costs high in an oligopolous industry. Markets are not magic, and not everything the "free" market does on its own is good. SpaceX's radically lower prices are not based on profit-maximizing points the way the "free" market commands - they could charge a lot more than they are and be even more profitable while still claiming substantial price reductions from ULA. The prices are based on Elon Musk's personal commitment to advancing the entire industry as a whole, which has nothing to do with the short-sighted dictates of markets. He is creating the market. And if Big Aerospace had been doing that since the beginning instead of blindly maximizing their quarterly profits like the "free" market says they should, we would be everywhere by now.

The point is that markets are simply a tool with specific needs and limitations, not a divine force that conjures good things out of the ether. If simply left to its own devices, it just runs down into entropy, with an ever-diminishing number of fat-cats sucking up the last ounce of value out of the work of previous generations while refusing to reward the ideas and innovations of the present. We see it across every capital-intensive industry: Automobiles, aviation, power plants, and so on. The government needs to be productively involved in promoting the right kind of business - the kind that creates new markets rather than merely trying to suck dry the ones that already exist. And business needs to invest more in market-creation rather than just market-consumption.



The free market is magic: freedom, itself, has the ability to create something out of nothing. Freedom is life.

You can't "fix" life through targeted death. You can protect life, but you can't make it better. Just like a living human body, if you inject death on one area of a market, it can cause repercussions throughout the whole organism.

Government sponsorship of the rocket industry is death. Removal of governments sponsors can save the rocket industry. That hasn't happened yet.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Fri May 11, 2012 11:41 am
SuperShuki wrote:
The free market is magic


Umm, no. Magic is not real. This is the grownup world, aka reality, where actions have logical consequences.

SuperShuki wrote:
freedom, itself, has the ability to create something out of nothing. Freedom is life.


Fine, but markets aren't freedom. In many cases they suppress freedom by rewarding anti-competitive behavior. They are an unstable phenomenon that often isn't sustainable without governments defending competition against the accumulation of power and wealth in the hands of a complacent few.

SuperShuki wrote:
Government sponsorship of the rocket industry is death. Removal of governments sponsors can save the rocket industry. That hasn't happened yet.


There are no government rocket sponsors in Somalia. Unsurprisingly, there is also no space program in Somalia. Like I said, this is reality, and actions have logical consequences. We began the public space program because the private sector hadn't created one, and still wouldn't have created one by now - in fact, largely hasn't created one anyway, and hasn't done a very good job of moving forward on aviation or ground transportation either.

Government has a role to play because it has unique qualities and uses apart from the private sector - it is a particular tool the same way that markets are a different particular tool. Specifically, it helps incentivize the creation of helpful markets that businesses are being too lazy or short-sighted to create on their own, and once those businesses are established and running well, it protects people from being crushed by overweening corporate power.

Right now space is in the creation stage - the private sector has been too lazy, short-sighted, and risk-averse to make the proper investment, so government has had to step in with its own investments with commercial contracting. That has led to the first real hope for the dream of manned spaceflight in decades. To be against government is fundamentally to be against democracy, and that's just not a position I can endorse. More specifically, to be against government involvement of any kind in rocketry is just to not understanding how economies function. Markets are not magic, and economic value does not spontaneously appear out of thin air because someone who isn't a government wishes it into being.

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Post Re: Hard Data on Robotic Space Exploration, Private Spaceflight   Posted on: Fri May 11, 2012 12:45 pm
Quote:
Troubadour wrote:
SuperShuki wrote:
The free market is magic


Umm, no. Magic is not real. This is the grownup world, aka reality, where actions have logical consequences.


And yet, life exists, defying logic!

Quote:
SuperShuki wrote:
freedom, itself, has the ability to create something out of nothing. Freedom is life.


Fine, but markets aren't freedom. In many cases they suppress freedom by rewarding anti-competitive behavior. They are an unstable phenomenon that often isn't sustainable without governments defending competition against the accumulation of power and wealth in the hands of a complacent few.


You think that because you don't live in an environment with a truly free market. Also, why do you think that government beurocrats know how to fix the "problems" of the free market, any better than the members of the free market themselves?

SuperShuki wrote:
Government sponsorship of the rocket industry is death. Removal of governments sponsors can save the rocket industry. That hasn't happened yet.


There are no government rocket sponsors in Somalia. Unsurprisingly, there is also no space program in Somalia. Like I said, this is reality, and actions have logical consequences. We began the public space program because the private sector hadn't created one, and still wouldn't have created one by now - in fact, largely hasn't created one anyway, and hasn't done a very good job of moving forward on aviation or ground transportation either.

Government has a role to play because it has unique qualities and uses apart from the private sector - it is a particular tool the same way that markets are a different particular tool. Specifically, it helps incentivize the creation of helpful markets that businesses are being too lazy or short-sighted to create on their own, and once those businesses are established and running well, it protects people from being crushed by overweening corporate power.

Right now space is in the creation stage - the private sector has been too lazy, short-sighted, and risk-averse to make the proper investment, so government has had to step in with its own investments with commercial contracting. That has led to the first real hope for the dream of manned spaceflight in decades. To be against government is fundamentally to be against democracy, and that's just not a position I can endorse. More specifically, to be against government involvement of any kind in rocketry is just to not understanding how economies function. Markets are not magic, and economic value does not spontaneously appear out of thin air because someone who isn't a government wishes it into being.


I'd respond to your Somalia example, but I'm afraid Sigurd might boot me from the forum.

By the way, I am against democracy. 51% of the people have no right to dictate to 49% how to act, nor to take their money. I am for freedom, which is completely different. Government is necessary to secure freedom, not to build rockets.

_________________
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
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