Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Just Reviewed “A New American Space Plan” at SBR

with one comment

Folks, I was able to finally review well-known SF writers (and scientists) Travis Taylor and Stephanie Osborn’s A NEW AMERICAN SPACE PLAN over at Shiny Book Review (SBR) this evening.  This is a review you want to read, especially if you love space, space exploration, or the science that goes along with “science fiction.”  (We have to get our ideas from somewhere.  And a non-fiction book like this is a precious resource.)

Anyway — the science is sound, the arguments for why the United States still needs a space program (much less that it be fully funded and that its mission stay the same regardless of which President occupies the Oval Office) are first-rate, and the style is easy to read for the intelligent layman ninety-nine percent of the time.

So please.  Do yourself a favor.  Go read my review, then go grab the book!  You will not be disappointed, as the arguments put forth are thought-provoking and interesting.

(Further reviewer sayeth not.)

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Written by Barb Caffrey

February 21, 2013 at 7:17 pm

One Response

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  1. I was responding to a comment that accidentally got deleted, so here’s my answer as to why privatization is unlikely to work with regards to space exploration:

    The main reason we need an agency like NASA is that it takes a long time to gather information. It also takes a long time to build a spaceworthy vessel, to make voyages into the solar system will take years, decades, or more — meaning spaceworthy vessels are absolutely essential — and the amount of money required is so great that private companies can’t do it.

    This particular book explains why the government should stay in the space race, for lack of a better term.

    I agree with you that the bureaucracy of NASA, like many other governmental agencies, seems bloated, for lack of a better term. I also agree that NASA’s overall mission does not seem as essential to American life as it once was.

    Again, this particular book discusses how and why this is — every President comes in and has a different vision. Each President wants to put his particular stamp on things. And yet these missions take a lot longer than four years or eight years to plan, sometimes. This means that NASA is forced to take the short view when they really need to be taking the long view.

    And that’s again why it’s very unlikely that any private company can take on this particular type of responsibility, because most companies have to make shareholders happy. They’ve become incredibly short-term, short-sighted entities, especially in the last fifteen years — the long view need not apply to most corporations. And even one that’s privately held by a very few people who all have the same vision is going to run into budget concerns . . . unless that company decides to work internationally, which causes different problems because of issues as simple as AC/DC current, engineering standards from one country to the next don’t match, etc.

    That doesn’t make international cooperation — more than what we have at the “international” space station (paid for mostly by US dollars) — impossible, mind you. But it is incredibly difficult.

    Anyway, I agree we need actual, live space exploration. If a private company can do this, I’d be for it. But I tend to think that these two scientists — because that’s what they both are — understand the amount of money required and how much various private corporations can actually *do*. (They discuss the various $10 million prizes and how they’re not going to be sufficient to do much. It’s just not enough money. It’s a drop in the bucket. They’re a good first step, and that’s all. And they’re really not sure, these two scientists, that any private corporation in the world is likely to take a second step.)

    Barb Caffrey

    February 22, 2013 at 12:31 am


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