Posted by: kshayes513 | February 7, 2010

Buzz Aldrin on the Future of NASA

Red Saturn Run by Marianne Plumridge, http://www.marianneplumridge.com. By permission of the artist

If you haven’t been keeping track of the Obama administration’s plans for the future of NASA, check out what Buzz Aldrin has to say in an article on Huffington Post.

He sums up the administrations actions so far and the proposed NASA budget, and then goes on to discuss where this change of direction might take the space program. He says,

Image: BuzzAldrin.com

“…A better way to spend our taxpayer dollars would be not focused on the Moon race, but on something … called a “Flexible Path.” Flexible in the sense that it would redirect NASA towards developing the capability of voyaging to more distant locations in space, such as rendezvous with possibly threatening asteroids, or comets, or even flying by Mars to land on its moons. Many different destinations and missions would be enabled by that approach, not just one.”

The new direction would be great news for all us space junkies (like this one, who got sucked into watching Apollo 13 the other night on HBO, even though I own it and have watched it a zillion times).

And just as important to this blog, it’s also great inspiration to everyone whose worldbuilding and storytelling is drawn to near future-space travel settings.  Among the possibilities Aldrin mentions: commercial space flight becoming an established industry; a ship that cycles between Earth and Mars; and a space program that would soon be able to take us anywhere in the solar system! And from the Space.com news article about the new budget: inflatable space houses!

Space-travel worldbuilders and storytellers, fire up your rockets!

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Responses

  1. I heard Aldrin on NPR and some of his comments posed a potential problem. He said the only way space exploration would succeed would be if the exploration was helped by commercial interests.

    That sets the stage for the very fears about corporate control over resources that Ben Bova, Kim Stanley Robinson and others describe in their novels.

    Aldrin seemed more worried about the immediate needs of funding exploration than the worldbuilding that would then emerge.

    Let me know your thoughts —
    Tom

  2. I’m far from expert enough on the economics of space exploration to make an informed comment on this. However, it does seem to me that we have gotten good results in the past from a synergy of government and private development, in industries like telecommunications, automotive and aviation. We have needed both sides to make these technologies widely affordable and beneficial. Government involvement tends to keep the public interest more in focus than corporations would like, while private industry is better at finding cost effective technologies and methods, as long as they are answering to investors, not spending a blank check from a government contract!

    Since private industry is already well involved in space travel and technology, its just a question of where we let the partnership go from here.

  3. Your blog has introduced me to the idea of worldbuilding. I’d never heard of it before. Even so, I found this post interesting. I hadn’t heard that quote from Aldrin. Makes sense to me!

    Leigh Ann Otte
    Freelance Writer/Editor

  4. Thanks for stopping by, Leigh Ann, I hope you find lots more of interest as you discover worldbuilding! I just made a visit and a comment to your new medical writer blog, too!

  5. When I hear about private industry listening to the wishes of investors, I worry about that more than the funds they would obtain from government. The profit motive dictates the use of resources that could be denied to vast groups in a society. That motive could result in the corporate wars over mining rights in the solar system predicted by the SF worldbuilders.

    On the other hand, a government, or entity that evaluates the total needs of the society would be needed to avoid the misuse of such power. The research base at Antarctica has resulted in a joint learning without infringement of the profit motive. That might be an example of how to proceed.

    What do you think?

    Tom

  6. Corporate competition is often to the benefit of the public; I think its when we see large monopolies and limited public choices that we have problems: one or two cable/internet options, one or two health insurance companies, etc, six conglomerates controlling most of the media, etc.

    the Antarctic treaty is a great model for what might work in space exploration, since it’s hard to imagine the international community accepting any one nation’s exclusive territorial claims on other planets.

    Of course, having China or someone else make those claims would make much more entertaining science fiction, wouldn’t it?


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