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NASA Wants To Fund Space Taxis 136

NASA plans on using $50 million in stimulus funds to seed development of a commercial passenger transportation service to space. Potential space taxi inventors have 45 days to submit their proposals. The proposals will be competitively evaluated and the winners will be announced by the end of September. It is unclear what other Commodore 64 games NASA plans on making a reality, but I hope Arkanoid makes the short list.


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NASA Wants To Fund Space Taxis

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  • Re:Once again ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eln ( 21727 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:13PM (#29025621)
    If you invest your 401k heavily in companies building nightclubs in space, this space taxi service will be a major boon for you.
  • Re:Once again ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cthulu_mt ( 1124113 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:14PM (#29025647)
    Wrong! You saw that stimulus money when the government took it out of your wallet!

    Say thanks to Uncle Sam.
  • Re:Once again ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Arthur B. ( 806360 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:24PM (#29025829)

    This is not a troll, this is informative.

  • Re:uh-oh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SEWilco ( 27983 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:25PM (#29025845) Journal
    I'm sure Republicans and Libertarians are all in favor of private space taxis, whether NASA helps create the technology or others do. Having the government with a monopoly on space taxis is different from private taxis services.
  • Re:Once again ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:28PM (#29025877) Journal

    NASA plans on using $50 million in stimulus funds to seed development of a commercial passenger transportation service to space. ... More stimulus funds that 99% of the middle class will never see. How is this gonna help my 401k?

    Ah, the old "spending money on the space program means ferrying dollar bills into orbit and dumping them there" argument. One day people will get it into their heads that money spent on the space program is spent pretty much exclusively on Earth where jobs are created, new technologies are developed, and countless other economic and social spin-offs are generated. In the meantime, I'll have to keep on posting this reminder.

  • Re:Once again ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wjousts ( 1529427 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:43PM (#29026171)
    Believe it or not, but the stimulus isn't supposed to pad your 401k, it's supposed to create jobs.
  • by zorro-z ( 1423959 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:43PM (#29026175)

    You are making an assumption: namely, that no new technology would be involved in the creation of these 'space taxis.' In other words, you appear to be assuming that a space taxi would be nothing more than a rebranded, perhaps smaller, Space Shuttle.

    But perhaps a space taxi could resemble one which launches from a tanker flying at high altitude. Perhaps it could involve ramjets rather than liquid or solid fuel rockets. Or, perhaps more likely, it could involve an entirely new technology.

    The idea of developing new technology is also, in and of itself, a major benefit of the space program, in that developing new technology will likely require us to also educate a new generation of engineers. It's no co-incidence that Pres. Kennedy's challenge to land a man on the moon + return him safely to earth also yielded a bumper crop of enthusiastic young engineers. This group of engineers is now reaching retirement age, and if the US is to retain its economic position, it needs to replace these engineers w/a new generation.

    Full disclosure: I'm a computer engineer, from a family of engineers. I also went to Space Camp. Twice.

  • by Praseodymn ( 195411 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:47PM (#29026241) Homepage

    Every time any NASA proposal has come up, people always make your point. Just because you can't imagine what useful thing will come from this proposal does not mean it won't exist. It just means that it's beyond your imagination. Furthermore, one could reasonably suppose that your argument had been brought up before any of the missions that yielded the useful technologies listed on this list; had those arguments been listened to, we would have none of the technologies, thus the oc's point.

  • Re:Once again ... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by nigelo ( 30096 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:57PM (#29026389)

    I'll keep posting this, too, I guess:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_window_fallacy [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Once again ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @02:12PM (#29026627) Homepage

    Remember, the reason the broken window fallacy is a fallacy is that it assumes that breaking a window and having to fix it is the only thing that gets the money moving and thus you're making things better by breaking the window. The observation that this money could have been spent on new development with equal or greater effect on the economy is what nullifies it.

    Investing in space tourism is investing in cheap access to space. That's not anything like digging ditches just so you can fill them in, or breaking a window so you have to fix it, or going to war so you have to spend tons of money blowing things and people up. It's more like (though not exactly like) the U.S. highway system. A public works project that had a huge economic benefit.

  • Re:Once again ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nigelo ( 30096 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @02:22PM (#29026791)


    Then I guess we could argue matters of degree: do we get bigger benefit from space-related research or, say, stem-cell research, investing in social programs or basic education.

    And I'd have to say 'I don't know, so let's find a way to invest in all of them, and hopefully reduce the need for investment in the digging ditches/filling them in, etc.'

  • by wasabu ( 1502975 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @03:27PM (#29028029)

    The best kind of stimulus is the kind of stimulus that puts people in jobs.

    Load of nonsense. Bleeding the money from private enterprise (ie taxes) to 'stimulate' parts of the economy only takes money away from other parts. This is called misallocation of capital because the power of the market is stifled, and always leads to LOSS of jobs, because the 'economy' of money is put in the hands of idiots. The desires and needs of millions of people are at the root of a truely free market. A handful of useless beurocrats by definition cannot best allocate capital. "Stimulus" is just a new word for the same old trick of stealing public money to line the pockets of your friends. Every dollar of capital misallocation will prolong Depression 2.0. If there is a market for space travel (between paycheques), private enterprise will find it and do it efficiently, for far less.

  • Re:Once again ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @07:23PM (#29031601) Journal
    The problems with the British rail system started with Dr Beeching's scrapping of most of it. By concentrating on the more profitable lines, and scrapping the rest, he hoped to make British Rail less dependent on government subsidy. Unfortunately, he failed to take into account that a lot of the passengers on unprofitable rural lines were getting trains to larger stations and then getting on the more profitable trains. When the branch lines were scrapped, they had to get cars instead and so didn't use any trains. Privatising it might have worked, except that they privatised the profitable bits separately and then kept pumping government money into the unprofitable bit, so it combined all of the disadvantages of public and private ownership for the taxpayers, and all of the advantages for the shareholders.

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.