All of y'all know that I'm a total geek when it comes to space right? I can't do science but I love it! Newt Gingrich is now saying we need a space station on the moon. When I hear him say it, my antennae go up to the "ridiculometer" for ridiculousness. But the geek in me would be like, "Dude…that is sooo cool!" I want to go! It would be great." But when Newt says it, something just can't be right.
The problem is that, right now, economically it doesn't make sense the way he wants to do it. Newt wants business to fund space exploration. That won't work, dog. As Neil Tyson explains it correctly, government funds risk, business exploits the results. That's how it always works. Tyson says that all the exploratory missions of our great Euro-American past were funded by the monarchies and governments: Columbus, Lewis and Clark, Pizzaro…No business man funded this stuff because…Flying off into the unknown is dangerous! You don't know what the hell is going to happen! Didn't Newt ever watch Alien or any other space exploration movie? People get picked off by all manor of stuff you can't foresee. In Star Trek, you NEVER wanted to be the man in the red shirt, cause you ALWAYS got picked off; and generally FIRST, in the most gruesome way possible. And the Federation was the government and Starfleet was the military/explorative arm of the…you guessed it…the government.
All this to say, space exploration is not bad. It can yield great scientific knowledge much of which may have commercial application. I wouldn't be typing on this computer without the moon shot, ultimately. Much of the technology we have today can be directly or indirectly connected to the space program: which is GOVERNMENT FUNDED! Government's role can be to undertake risk on a scale that individuals or industry cannot. Government pools the resources of a society (via the dreaded taxes) and is charged with thinking of the long range public good. That's government's job. I keep saying this over and over because it seems like we've lost sight of what government does and why it's there. It doesn't just provide for the common defense and hasn't for a long time. Commercial exploitation comes AFTER government, 'cause it's awfully hard to run business with thieves and bandits trying to take your cake. That's why the failed states of Sudan and Somalia have no business infrastructure -- their government is nonexistent.
I soooo want to see more space exploration because I am a sci-fi nut. It's so cool I can hardly stand it. But if you want to do it in real life, you have to make a real case for it, in adult terms, not just because you want to go. And you have to understand how we did it in the first place -- NASA -- short for Government funded space exploration.