>> Tuesday, December 8, 2009
When it comes to space stuff, things people tend to polarize. If they're a supporter of the current programs, then they tend to defend even bad ideas. If they think space is a bad idea when there are so many "better" things we can spend our money on, they tend to complain about even the very best programs and ideas as if it were all useless. Then there's the whole faction that want us to do science and no people (a mistake in my opinion). What do they have in common? They're all absolutely ecstatic about commercial spaceflight and think it is the answer to all our prayers.
Actually, that's the odd part. Even people who doubt we ever went to the moon (which is about as whacked as possible are all gangbusters think commercial spaceflight with jump up and run with the ball when NASA and company are spinning in circles. Everybody thinks this will be cheaper, better, more accessible and get rid of all that silly red tape that keeps us from walking on Mars tomorrow.
Sigh. If only.
I will be the last to argue that none of our government programs have all their crap together like I'd like them to have. But, when people tell me commercial spaceflight will solve all our problems, I cringe all the way through.
Why? Because I know too much about it. FAA has been directed to provide no regulation of this business, except for discouraging crashing spacecraft into cities and the like, until 2012. If you're a passenger, you'll be taking your chances.
Early NASA and Soviet space programs did us at least one disservice. They made it look too easy. People shrug away the danger like it makes no difference. "All those safety regulations aren't really important; they just drag us down," I hear. Except I didn't and dont' buy it.
Well, someone agreed with me. I wish I had written this. It was as if he we were wandering around my brain and then did research I hadn't done. Really, if you were seriously considering signing up for an early tourist trip into space, you should read this. And, even if you thought about risking your life, think about how you'd feel if it were your spouse or your kid you were risking.
It ain't the 1920's when aviation was young and no one knew what they were doing. We've learned plenty of lessons the hard way and we shouldn't have to learn them again. Commercial spaceflight could be successful, should be successful, but I worry it won't happen unless they take advantage of all the knowledge written in blood.