Video: The next American era in space

posted at 2:15 pm on February 9, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Bill Whittle brings us up to date on what he calls “the real Space Age,” which didn’t peak in July 1969 but launched instead on June 21st, 2004 — when the first private-sector flight entered Earth orbit.  Thus began the era of sustainable space exploration, Whittle argues, where a top-down, sclerotic bureaucracy no longer controls the efforts to reach space.  NASA has become an agency that blocks rather than promotes space flight and exploration, and now can’t even provide the US with its own transportation to the International Space Station we pioneered, along with Russia.

Does that mean the end of space flight for the US?  Not at all, Bill tells us — and if NASA can stay out of the way, perhaps we can make space flight and exploration into a new private-sector market with much more room for innovation:

Barack Obama referred to our present economic crisis as “our Sputnik moment,” but Obama wants more top-down management of the economy; in essence, he wants to use the current NASA approach.  If we’re facing a Sputnik moment on the economy or in space, we’d do better to follow Bill’s advice.


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I watched this last night when Instapundit posted it. Only about a quarter of this stuff made news, but it all should.

zmdavid on February 9, 2011 at 2:21 PM

Sooooo….if we’re not sending people to space anymore other than through private means why do we still need to fund NASA?

Oh wait, for them to tell us about the dangers of global warming. I forgot.

search4truth on February 9, 2011 at 2:21 PM

The explosion at the(2:37 mark)was the Airforce Delta Rocket
snafu,that rained down on the cape!!
===================================

Nasa explosion

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66ruhJn59NM

canopfor on February 9, 2011 at 2:25 PM

why do we still need to fund NASA?

search4truth on February 9, 2011 at 2:21 PM

And Muslim outreach.

WashJeff on February 9, 2011 at 2:27 PM

If we’re facing a Sputnik moment on the economy or in space, we’d do better to follow Bill’s advice.
==============================================

Obama sees Federal Worker jobs and more departments,
which is a sad state of affairs for NASA!

canopfor on February 9, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Sooooo….if we’re not sending people to space anymore other than through private means why do we still need to fund NASA?

search4truth on February 9, 2011 at 2:21 PM

Muslim outreach.

SirGawain on February 9, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Didn’t you see Alien? That was a private ship. So, in the future space stuff will be private and all.

Akzed on February 9, 2011 at 2:31 PM

Sooooo….if we’re not sending people to space anymore other than through private means why do we still need to fund NASA?

Oh wait, for them to tell us about the dangers of global warming. I forgot.

search4truth on February 9, 2011 at 2:21 PM

Don’t forget about the outreach to Islam and helping increase Muslim self esteem.

catmman on February 9, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Once this really grows legs, count on the government to make Space the exclusive domain of NASA

Kini on February 9, 2011 at 2:35 PM

Currently 4 manned orbital spacecraft currently under development in the US:

SpaceX’s Dragon, Boeing’s CST-100, SpaceDev’s Dream Chaser, and even NASA’s Orion.

Orbital Science also announced a proposal last week for a spaceplane to carry astronauts to orbit.

DarkCurrent on February 9, 2011 at 2:43 PM

Don’t worry folks.
The federal govt will find a way to regulate space travel.
Think of the cavity searches this kind of travel will necessitate!

Badger40 on February 9, 2011 at 2:43 PM

Orbital Science also announced a proposal last week for a spaceplane to carry astronauts to orbit.

DarkCurrent on February 9, 2011 at 2:43 PM

So how long will it be till they get an emissions permit?
Aww Who cares.
All I want to know is how you feel about the ‘dead’ cat pic!

Badger40 on February 9, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Once this really grows legs, count on the government to make Space the exclusive domain of NASA

Kini on February 9, 2011 at 2:35 PM

A star czar.

Barnestormer on February 9, 2011 at 2:47 PM

I really hope Whittle is correct.

Skandia Recluse on February 9, 2011 at 2:47 PM

All I want to know is how you feel about the ‘dead’ cat pic!

Badger40 on February 9, 2011 at 2:45 PM

I thought it was funny. Hope my buddy LJ didn’t see it. He smokes…

DarkCurrent on February 9, 2011 at 2:50 PM

He smokes…

DarkCurrent on February 9, 2011 at 2:50 PM

LMAO!

Badger40 on February 9, 2011 at 2:52 PM

I like this guy.

Oil Can on February 9, 2011 at 2:54 PM

The government should be running routine space transportation to the same extent that it should be running the airlines. Meaning, it shouldn’t.

NASA needs to stick to basic R&D and exploration.

ZenDraken on February 9, 2011 at 3:01 PM

Meh. So far the private space industry has been a lot of sizzle for not much steak. Call me back if/when they make it to the moon and back in one piece.

Dark-Star on February 9, 2011 at 3:07 PM

Meh. So far the private space industry has been a lot of sizzle for not much steak. Call me back if/when they make it to the moon and back in one piece.

Dark-Star on February 9, 2011 at 3:07 PM

Hopefully they will, since I’m about 100 miles downwind from Jeff Bezos Blue Origin space launch site near Guadalupe Pass in Texas. Look out below…

jon1979 on February 9, 2011 at 3:18 PM

Meh. So far the private space industry has been a lot of sizzle for not much steak. Call me back if/when they make it to the moon and back in one piece.

Dark-Star on February 9, 2011 at 3:07 PM

Did you miss the news of SpaceX Dragon’s first (and perfect) test flight in December? They’re ahead of NASA’s Orion at this point.

DarkCurrent on February 9, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Holy cow! This Whittle guy can really put together a fine video. This blew me away.

liberty0 on February 9, 2011 at 3:20 PM

DarkCurrent on February 9, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Suppose I did. Hmm. Will keep an eye on them.

Dark-Star on February 9, 2011 at 3:24 PM

Another great video by Bill Whittle. If NASA isn’t going to be practical or competitive in space, maybe it should be reorganized to help the private sector get into space. With just a small fraction of their current budget, NASA could provide generous, no strings attached grants to American companies trying to get into space.

Dongemaharu on February 9, 2011 at 3:36 PM

Suppose I did. Hmm. Will keep an eye on them.

Dark-Star on February 9, 2011 at 3:24 PM

Here’s a video. Falcon 9 is the booster, making it’s second flight. As planned, Dragon made four orbits before reentry and splash down off of southern California. As was mentioned in the video up top, human passengers aboard would have had a great ride.

DarkCurrent on February 9, 2011 at 3:38 PM

As was mentioned in the video up top, human passengers aboard would have had a great ride.

DarkCurrent on February 9, 2011 at 3:38 PM

So the question is, will you be a passenger?
I am thinking you’d leap at the chance.

Badger40 on February 9, 2011 at 3:54 PM

So the question is, will you be a passenger?
I am thinking you’d leap at the chance.

Badger40 on February 9, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Hell yes!

DarkCurrent on February 9, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Tax revenues from space. Mmmm Mmmmmm Mmmm

tomg51 on February 9, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Suddenly, I feel a lot better.

Count to 10 on February 9, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Anyone see anything on the Science Channel or what not that’s a little more recent about this?

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1690/1

Personally, I don’t see where the guy’s coming from with “steel with the weight of Styrofoam” not adding up to reality . . . after all, isn’t the system – and the ship itself – supposed to be operating in 0g?

Ryan Anthony on February 9, 2011 at 4:12 PM

and AFA private space exploration goes, I’d love to see a fully functioning Moon colony by the year 2020.

Ryan Anthony on February 9, 2011 at 4:15 PM

While Barack Hussein Obama’s current and newly mandated NASA mission is to conduct tours of the Muslim world instructing Islamic nations and their peoples on what great scientists and explorers they used to be 2,000 years in the past and to help them feel good about that, private space exploration seems like a great new deal for space science in this day and age.

However, I believe wholeheartedly that Barack Hussein Obama and his self-loathing ilk of America hating defeatists will find some way, whether by hook or crook, to hamstring those efforts as well as he redistributes successful entrepreneur’s wealth to wholly empty world record breaking stimulus gestures, sloths, and foreign interests.

If Barack Hussein Obama and his ilk could have their way, they’d rid the USA, and the world, of NASA in its entirety.

FlatFoot on February 9, 2011 at 4:21 PM

So far the private space industry has been a lot of sizzle for not much steak. Call me back if/when they make it to the moon and back in one piece.

Dark-Star on February 9, 2011 at 3:07 PM

Think early aviation history, Spaceship One may had been our Wright Flier. And don’t forget that 66 years from Kitty Hawk, a man walked on the moon.

The Dream is still alive, naysayers. Thanks, Bill Whittle!

El Coqui on February 9, 2011 at 4:47 PM

So when is some private company going to out-bid Russia for taxi service to our space station?

Socratease on February 9, 2011 at 4:48 PM

So what are taxes like on the moon?

bitsy on February 9, 2011 at 4:58 PM

So when is some private company going to out-bid Russia for taxi service to our space station?

Socratease on February 9, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Ultimately I can’t see this being an American company, sadly. Labor costs, union thuggery, environmental harassment, high corporate and income taxes, crap and trade, etc. Get ready for articles on the Carbon signature of a huge launch rocket.

It’ll go the same way of oil drilling and chip manufacturing.

slickwillie2001 on February 9, 2011 at 5:49 PM

I like Whittle, but this is pie in the sky nonsense. There is no profit from “space travel”. The private sector should only go into space, and will only go, if there is something to do to make money. Going into space has always been an intellectual pursuit with no potential for profit.

Launching satellites, yes, there is profit in that. But man going into space is purely romanticized nonsense. Aside from the odd billionaire paying tens of millions to ride into space, there is nothing to exploit in the vacuum of space to justify the expense of going there. There is a reason why NASA abandoned the moon 40 years ago. A hundred billion dollars was a lot of money to pay for moon rocks. It was so insane, even the US government couldn’t continue to justify it. That tells you something.

keep the change on February 9, 2011 at 7:09 PM

I disagree with the tone of your post. I think NASA did what it was supposed to do here. Here is a whole industry that would never exist without an initial public investment in research and the development of new technologies. No private industry would be doing anything like this if the government hadn’t reduced the barrier to entry.

I’m as conservative as anyone about these kinds of thing, but I think public investment in science and technology is one of the few things the government does that the public really derives a great benefit from.

GeorgeStanton on February 9, 2011 at 7:56 PM

The Dream is still alive, naysayers. Thanks, Bill Whittle!

El Coqui on February 9, 2011 at 4:47 PM

I want to believe…but especially with private industry, there’s nothing in it for them but bragging rights and a few uber-expensive rides for the ultra-rich. Even NASA got the plug pulled when the chest-thumping contest with the Soviets was over.

We simply have no vision for exploration anymore, nor even the money to fund it.

Dark-Star on February 9, 2011 at 7:59 PM

Species, .000.0.001.

Speakup on February 9, 2011 at 8:04 PM

The Dream is still alive, naysayers. Thanks, Bill Whittle!

El Coqui on February 9, 2011 at 4:47 PM

I want to believe…but especially with private industry, there’s nothing in it for them but bragging rights and a few uber-expensive rides for the ultra-rich. Even NASA got the plug pulled when the chest-thumping contest with the Soviets was over.

We simply have no vision for exploration anymore, nor even the money to fund it.

Dark-Star on February 9, 2011 at 7:59 PM

Once more, Dark. Think early aviation. I recommend “The First to Fly” by Sherwood Harris.

http://www.amazon.com/First-Fly-Aviations-Pioneer-Days/dp/B000SIAPCW/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1297299912&sr=1-9

You will find the parallels noteworthy.

El Coqui on February 9, 2011 at 8:10 PM

I’d love to see a fully functioning Moon colony by the year 2020.

Ryan Anthony on February 9, 2011 at 4:15 PM

And I know JUST who should be its 1st resident.
Give him a one way ticket.

It’ll go the same way of oil drilling and chip manufacturing.

slickwillie2001 on February 9, 2011 at 5:49 PM

I believe it.
It’s why our once proud infrastructure is now crumbling slowly to bits, i.e. power grid, fuel refining capability, etc.

Badger40 on February 9, 2011 at 8:22 PM

Much as I love the private sector taking over, they are just soooo close to replicating the successes of the Mercury missions.

Howzabout waiting until the private sector can take someone to the Space Station before abandoning NASA?

Sekhmet on February 9, 2011 at 8:36 PM

Howzabout waiting until the private sector can take someone to the Space Station before abandoning NASA?

Sekhmet on February 9, 2011 at 8:36 PM

The US is already out of the rocket business. ULA (United Launch Alliance) has a contract to provide the Government a fixed number of Atlas and Delta rockets, and they sell to other governments as well.

Our military no longer oversees launch platform development — they bid into a commercial marketplace.

The ULA has been barely breaking even over the past 5 years or so, but the US is nearly out of the allocation it paid for from ULA, and expects the price to climb steeply after the allocation is exhausted.

Looking at the private sector for spaceflight, they are not concentrating on the sorts of lift capability we had with the Shuttle — they are looking to take a few tourists for a couple of orbits. These guys will not be going to the moon — that’s reserved, in the current environment, for India and China.

unclesmrgol on February 9, 2011 at 10:32 PM

NASA chose the wrong way to get into space soonest.
NASA chose to use disposable vehicles to get to the moon. NASA chose to use an allegedly reusable launch vehicle, that had to be rebuilt after every flight.

That’s a government agency for you.

Slowburn on February 10, 2011 at 12:09 AM

Meh. So far the private space industry has been a lot of sizzle for not much steak. Call me back if/when they make it to the moon and back in one piece.

Dark-Star on February 9, 2011 at 3:07 PM

Did you miss the news of SpaceX Dragon’s first (and perfect) test flight in December? They’re ahead of NASA’s Orion at this point.

DarkCurrent on February 9, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Technically, the Orion is in psuedo-semi-canceled mode at the moment, while funding is in bungie-limbo

Personally, I don’t see where the guy’s coming from with “steel with the weight of Styrofoam” not adding up to reality . . . after all, isn’t the system – and the ship itself – supposed to be operating in 0g?

Ryan Anthony on February 9, 2011 at 4:12 PM

The major cost in space operations is getting the stuff into orbit, and there, ounces are expensive. Basically, mass-pound takes thousands of dollars to get into an Earth orbit, depending on how high an orbit you are going for, and innumerable other factors.

Strength is important even in a 0G environment because, just because it is weightless, it doesn’t mean that it is massless, and doesn’t mean that no forces are acting on it. If you’re moving around something like a solar panel from its mounting point, you’re essentially whipping around a long rod, with inertia all along its length. It takes force to get it going, and force to get it stopped, and it it’s not strong enough, you can break it at either end of the motion.

Finally, it has to survive the launch. Wikipedia has some great photos of the shock collars that rockets and transonic aircraft produce here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prandtl%E2%80%93Glauert_singularity
Space rockets are a very harsh mode of transportation.

Voyager on February 10, 2011 at 3:58 AM

Much as I love the private sector taking over, they are just soooo close to replicating the successes of the Mercury missions.

Howzabout waiting until the private sector can take someone to the Space Station before abandoning NASA?

Sekhmet on February 9, 2011 at 8:36 PM

Space Station resupply is the mission that the Dragon X is being bid for. They’re just also man-rating it at the same time. Technically the cargo Dragon will have about three time the cargo capacity of the Mercury capsule’s entire launch weight, so they’re just the tiniest bit past the Mercury program.

Just to make it more fun, Space X is also developing the Falcon launch vehicles to be reusable. Right now they’re testing recovery on the first stage, but the long term goal is to get both stages to be fully reusable.

Voyager on February 10, 2011 at 4:13 AM

Remember the expression “lead, follow, or get out of the way”? Since it appears NASA won’t be leading or following it’s time for them to get out of the way and let private enterprise show how this can get done in a expeditious method. NASA was great in its day but after the “Muslim Outreach” comment it became obvious their time had come. Hand NASA their hats, defund them and let’s get going once again.

greasywrench on February 10, 2011 at 3:36 PM