40 years ago today, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the surface of the Moon while Michael Collins circled overhead. It was a remarkable feat of perseverance, determination and engineering. As I recount this day, I'm awed by the very thought of it. Six years before I was born, we seemed to leap off the planet for the first time. A small step, but a giant leap right?
Today, thousands of blogs, social networks, newspapers, and even traditional news outlets and dinner conversations are discussing this point in history in detail.
Their celebrations, today, seem undeserved.
The moon landings in 1969 were an engineering success but failed completely to create a thriving industry or enable the American people to explore. It's 40 years later and we're years away from even matching what we did before. We don't even have plans to surpass our own accomplishments.
On the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11, I want to look forward to a rebirth of our sense of adventurism, and create a space faring civilization where all of humanity can participate and benefit. The United States Government should abandon it's own plans for the moon.
The political landscape of the US Government can't support a program who's goals will span many administrations. President George W Bush announced plans to return to the Moon by 2020, and 5 years later, the new Administration's first task for NASA was to examine if that plan was a good idea. Budgets slipped, and the whole industry has spent 2009 wondering what the Administration will decide to do. This will happen again every four to eight years.
The Government should not be in the business of exploration.
The Government should not be in the business of anything.
The Government should be an enabler for its citizens to be explorers and to create an industry.
Why does the US Government have a Space Administration whose goal is to be the global leader in space exploration anyway?
Governments benefit in a number of ways from a thriving Space Industry. Some of these benefits are:
- spy/war technologies
- communications technologies
- draws high-quality students and scientists from other countries
- technology resources
- sales to other countries
With the exception of war technologies, if the Government is the leader in the industry in these areas, isn't that the same thing as getting in the way of it's citizens ability to be the leader in these areas?
The point of our Government is to SERVE THE PEOPLE.
So my plea to the Government is to start serving us. Today.
In the early 1900's, the Government did not create a US Government airline, it worked with private companies, through incentives, tax breaks, and though the purchase of services from private companies and citizens to create an industry. Today, for a few hundred dollars, we can fly anywhere in the world in 1 day with almost complete safety.
The transportation industry today, specifically the Automotive industry, recognizes that we need to move our mobility away from dependence on fossil fuels. The US Government did not create it's own automotive manufacturing administration. Instead it is helping individuals and companies innovate via incentives, tax breaks, and through the purchase of services from private companies and citizens.
I'm not suggesting we abandon space exploration. I'm suggesting that the Government stop trying to be the leader and enable leadership in it's own citizens. Pour those billions of dollars into competitions, grant programs, and loans. Private industry will be able to develop a space faring civilization faster and cheaper.
Please NASA, help your citizens be the global leaders in space exploration and industry.
Move over please, you're in our way.