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Dismantle the Shuttle, dismantle NASA


Dismantle the Shuttle, dismantle NASA

This marks the end of an era.  Starting in the late 1960s the Space Shuttle program has dominated a majority of manned space operations since the mid 1970s.  The shuttle was the main vehicle used during the assembly of the International Space Station up to its completion by 2011.  The program has been scrapped and supposedly replaced by the new Orion spacecraft program, which given recent budget cuts, puts its full development in question.

Undoubtedly, instituted in the name of competitiveness with the Soviet Union for space supremacy much like the moon missions of the late 1960s-early 1970s and to propagandize US grandeur, the Space Shuttle is an obsolete socialistic cold-war era government subsidized program.  The USSR had a program to compete with the US in the Space Shuttle race entitled "Buran", but it was halted and dismantled due to lack of funding and the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. 

Indeed the arbitrary idea of a trip to the moon by John F. Kennedy (conceived during Eisenhower's administration) and the subsequent space missions have conferred many benefits to society as a whole in regards to technology, science and other relevant sectors.  However, one can quickly see in this small example that these aforementioned benefits were all small positives from what was primarily, if not an entirely politically driven program for complete space dominance where these private sector benefits were secondary if not accidental in nature.  Its benefits were primarily used for militaristic purposes instead of peaceful ones. 

Absent such subsidization by the bureaucracy, would there have been such a program?  Would we have landed on the moon?  In a free market, unhampered by any government institution that monopolizes a particular industry, it is of curious thought to ponder if an entrepreneur would not have found a substantive reason for flying to the moon or just to space in general.  Instead of an artificially induced program, there would be a private concerted effort by wealthy investors or companies to make such an endeavor a reality.  The reason would more than likely be based on profit in regards to what can be gained from such a program.  Given that this would be a profit driven project, instead of a politically driven one, resources would not be misallocated, capital requirements would be obtained from the private sector rather than through legal plunder or inflationary measures, cost savings would be a priority and the benefits privatized immediately for consumer benefit and investment returns.

Another immediate benefit that a private effort would provide that is not seen by the American public who is torn over the end of this program is real competition. Currently, there exists some competition in the space industry.  Several private companies vie for an opportunity to earn a contract from the US government to supply NASA with new technology, be it a new space vehicle, rockets and etc.  The problem here is that once the contract is earned, one company will maintain that monopoly through its end date.  In a free market setting where government does not intervene nor hold a monopoly in space travel, competition would be vibrant much like the mobile phone industry where hundreds of millions world wide, ranging from the poorest to the wealthiest have reaped its benefits.

We do not need an institution setting regulations and preventing the pent up creativity and innovation of our entrepreneurs from being released into the market.  A major public concern for any service or product is safety, this leads to an unnecessary dependence on the system as a safety net, the nanny state.  In the private sector, safety is kept in check via profitability and consumer demand (see Ron Paul's new anti TSA bill and commentary).  A company notorious for accidents and mechanical problems with their products will never earn much market share if safety is an important requirement for the industry's consumers.  However, customers seeking lower prices may indeed overlook a company's safety record or product quality and take their chances. 

Jobs will be shed from NASA as further budget cuts make their way to the space agency.  My proposal is for Congress to put NASA up for sale.  Its entire infrastructural burden should be taken off the hands of tax payers and more importantly, its assets off the government's nefarious hands.  Auction off its assets on the market and allow those willing entrepreneurs to take this sector to the next level, much like Richard Branson (Virgin Atlantic's CEO) already has.  There exists here an opportunity to take a fat public agency to a private diet.  Over time, those laid-off workers such as engineers and scientists who were originally employed by NASA will find their services being requested by these newly formed companies competing for the right type of supremacy in this sector.  It is this type of competition that may drive wages even higher for those niche resources required by the space industry.  This will put us even more ahead of the world in the space front and freedom, putting an end to politically driven projects geared to benefit the already bloated military industrial complex.

Sobre o autor

David Klein

Nasceu no Brasil e é formado na Escola de Administração da University of Central Florida. Atualmente trabalha na indústria de geração de energia e estuda autonomamente Economia Austríaca.

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