Monday, January 30, 2012

Newt on Space Policy

Gingrich has good and original ideas. Unfortunately, his good ideas aren't original and his original ideas aren't good.

This snarkiness is not original, but it seems apt.

Good but not original:

1) Incremental development is better than betting everything on your initial design working perfectly.

2) Space Exploration can cost less with greater use of private enterprise.

3) A permanent base on the Lunar surface is a reasonable and achievable goal.

Original but not good:

1) Lincoln was grandiose.

2) The Wright brothers were grandiose.

3) "We had enormous breakthroughs in aviation in the 20s and 30s at very little cost to the government"

4) We build fewer new airplane designs than during the WWII era because of "how slow and cumbersome and bureaucratic we’ve become." As opposed to because a state of the art airplane today is enormously more capable, sophisticated and challenging to design than one was in 1940.

5) The Apollo program is one we should emulate today, because it achieved ambitious goals on a tight deadline. (It did so being willing to waste anything but time, building an enormous new Federal bureaucracy. It did so by so ruthlessly subordinated the program to the national prestige goal of getting a man to the moon on schedule that the wonderful hardware was unsustainable for other purposes and was abandoned)

6) Orbital manufacturing will be commercially viable by 2020.

7) We can afford to develop an enormously challenging "continuous propulsion system in space capable of getting to Mars in a remarkably short time" by 2020, at the same time as we build a permanent base on the moon.

8) Prizes are an awesome idea of broad application. Private enterprises will often be willing to spend billions of dollars of their own money to win a government prize worth a fraction of their investment.

The man flits from idea to idea like a gigantic over-caffeinated hummingbird, sipping briefly to decide if the idea is sufficiently bold and grandiose.

I think he's very right on good idea #2. However, that one is going to very difficult to get through Congress, who have the final say on if it gets funded. Does he have the temperament and focus to get that one passed if elected? Or will he be off to the next bold idea, good or otherwise? He has so many, and so many are wrong.


Hugh Knight said...

Do any of the other likely candidates fare any better? As I said on the comment I posted on your previous post, I'm no fan of Gingrich--far from it--so this isn't a snarky question. But Obama raped the space program, and I see nothing from anyone else, although as revolted as I am by all of them I am willing to admit I missed it.

Will McLean said...

The best current candidate on space issues is that one that supports a greater role for private enterprise in US spaceflight, but without Gingrich's dilettante hubris and magpie love for shiny expensive technology we don't need yet: Obama.