What to do about the lack of US plans in space

The President is expected to make some sort of announcement in the next month or so on the future of the US Space program.

The space fans all over the world are calling for a bold plan of action.  We want the “future” we read about growing up.  The 2010 in the mind and writings of Arthur C. Clarke, where space exploration was a regular occurrence for a large number of people and projects, just like airline travel is here in the real 2010.

Based on nothing other than us following the Global space community pretty closely for the last 12 months, we’re making the following prediction:

There wont be any sort of John F. Kennedy type calls to action that involve something like: Land a man on the moon before the end of the decade, and return him safely to the earth.  Rather, any calls to action will be worded with lovely tidbits and vagaries like job creation and the US remaining the leader in science and technology, with a focus on international cooperation going forward.

The path to the moon in the 1960’s was a once in all of history opportunity. It wont be repeated. The space industry and fans need to come to grips with this if we are to make any real progress.

Getting from putting a man into space(1961) to a moon landing(1969) in 8 years happened in a unique political and financial time in history.   The US had a need to show to the world community that it had the ability to beat the Russians in a lofty almost absurd goal.  The call to action was a simple statement without any fluff:

… to send a man to the moon, before this decade is out, and return him safely to the earth

There was no talk of the benefits to society, the economy, job creation, dominance in science…

Do you think Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would have been walking on the moon in 1969 if the call to action was “we’re going to pursue space exploration because it benefits our society, creates jobs, and will uphold our leadership in science…”?

Land on the moon and return safely to the earth. Very hard to do, but simple to understand. The stated goal does not include hows or whys.  Oh wait, President Kennedy did add something later when mentioning these things later on:

… not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

If he mentioned anything about job creation, or advances in science, or selling points such as better TV reception and super squishy mattress material, nobody remembers it.

The space industry and space fans cannot wait for a 1960’s style call to action by the government to create the future we want because it’s not coming.  That was a one time deal. It was two generations ago.  It’s time to let go and get to work.

The future of our dreams CAN exist.

Pick a part of that future and map out how you want to get there and then rally people behind your idea.  Create a vision and then execute it.  Simple words, difficult execution.

Many people already know this and are working hard to make their visions real:

Problem Possible solution
Cheaper access to orbit SpaceX, Bigelow Aerospace, Masten Space Systems
Demonstation that small teams can do big things XPRIZE
Space Travel as an object of popular desire Virgin Galactic, Space Adventures, Zero-G
The ability to to share technological ideas regardless of Country revamp ITAR rules in the US?

What ideas do you have? What problems will you solve? The world is waiting…

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